Sunday, September 10, 2006

Laguna Beach Council Disclosure Reports Now Online

Too Much Money in Politics?

Well, many are concerned about big interests being able to exert undue influence in Laguna Beach and buy our town.
- City Council Candidates required by law to file California form 460 listing contributions and expenditures
- City failed repeated requests to put online
- Now available at

It’s very interesting reading.

When I reviewed Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider’s legally required Campaign Disclosure form 460, I had some questions. Pearson for Council reported campaign contributions of $43,740 through June 30, 2006, and way before the normal campaigning period, expenditures of $29,777. So I went to Tuesday, September 5th City Council meeting and asked Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider questions. I received no answers so let me pose the questions again via this posting:

1) We once had a time when most Council candidates voluntarily agreed to limit their campaigns spending to $30,000. How can Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider justify voting to reduce the limit to $15,000 while told that would mean no candidates would sign the pledge, and then conduct such an extravagant campaign?
2) In the legally required Campaign Disclosure form Pearson for Council reported ten $500 expenditures totaling $5,000 apparently to be favorably listed on voter guide mailers. So my question is: if a citizen receives a Voter Guide recommending a vote for Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider, isn’t it actually a meaningless endorsement because it’s a direct result of her campaign making the $500 payment to the Guide?

Some of these guides listed in Pearson for Council form 460 as receiving $500 are:
· Official Law Enforcement Voter Guide
· Save Prop. 13 Voters Guide
· Voter Information Guide
· Official Non-Partisan Guide

I am awaiting answers, elaborating on the required campaign disclosure, from Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider.

For background, here a letter-to-the-editor I mailed in September 12, 2004. Note Councilwoman Pearson and Councilman Steve Dicterow joined Councilwoman Kinsman in the vote referred to in the letter:

“Dear Editor,

For quite a few years, most all candidates for Laguna Beach City Council signed a pledge and abided to a $30,000 voluntary limit on their campaign expenditures. Cheryl Kinsman was one of the few who refused to sign and abide by the voluntary limit.

For the 2000 campaign, Cheryl Kinsman reported campaign revenues of raised $53,896 including $20,000 from Kinsman herself. Including independent expenditures, a $14.06 per vote record was achieved. Being on the City Council, Councilwoman Mayor Kinsman voted on October 7, 2003 ”to lower the voluntary spending limitation for campaigns from $30,000 to $15,000” which passed with the minimum three votes.

Many concerned about campaign finance reform stated at that City Council meeting that such a reduction would eviscerate the provision and likely no serious candidate would be able to abide to such an artificially low and unrealistic limit.

Guess what? Previously almost all candidates signed the voluntary campaign limit pledge, and this year no candidate did. From almost all to zero!

Pretty clever of Councilwoman Kinsman. That is if the voters don’t mind City Council members using the power of their office for blatant political purposes.
Politicians should be held accountable.”


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