"The San Mateo City Council is exploring campaign finance reform with changes to expenditure limits, nonmonetary contributions and financial transparency amid concerns about the rising cost to compete in City Council races.
“I think that the city has a really important responsibility to make sure that at the front lines of democracy, which is where we are, at local government, that we have a transparent and equitable and accessible process,” Councilwoman Amourence Lee said at a March 1 City Council meeting.
Lee supports broad reforms to regulations and wants to see an intentional reform process to reach consensus and bring options back for further action. Lee, who first expressed interest in a discussion about campaign finance reform, wants greater transparency on if donors came from inside or outside city limits and to address the rising costs of City Council campaigns. Ideas included removing city codes and using stricter state laws, limiting nonmonetary contributions, disclosing contributions by donor location, limiting contributions by individuals who own and donate through multiple businesses and voluntary expenditure limits.
“I think it’s “really an exciting opportunity for us as a city to level the playing field and get big money out of politics,” Lee said." [Read Article]
Exponential Increase in Campaign Costs
In 2020, we saw a sharp increase in campaign expenditures, it was the most expensive race and highest average expenditures per candidate. The trend is very concerning, we saw the most spent by a candidate (>$100k) in our City's history, including self financing $15,000, and the majority of funds raised from outside city and county donors.