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Debating Councilmember Bonin’s ‘clean money’ election reforms

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin (Eleventh District).
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin (Eleventh District).
Grant Slater/KPCC

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On January 16, Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced a motion for the city to publicly finance local elections in Los Angeles.

Under the “clean money” proposal, a candidate would collect small donations from constituents in order to prove the viability of their campaign, and then receive adequate funding from the city, foregoing further fundraising. The motion is part of a series of proposed election reforms introduced this week by Councilmember Bonin, who’s running for reelection in March. They include formal support for the CA DISCLOSE Act, which requires a political ad to display its three largest funders, and a motion to prevent foreign money from influencing local elections.

Proponents of the “clean money” motion say it would keep the influence of money out of city politics, leveling the playing field and encouraging candidates to engage with constituents. Opposition says that sounds good on paper, but realistically, it’s just another barrier. Do you think local elections should be publicly funded? Or will this system be too expensive,  creating more hoops for candidates to jump through? What do you think of Bonin’s other “clean money” election proposals?


Michele Sutter, co-founder of Money Out Voters In, nonprofit that works to decrease the influence of money on politics

Jessica Levinson, president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission and a professor of law at Loyola Law School