|Preface / Amnesia file: In 1994, LB's then-prominent progressive group ("Long Beach Area Citizens Involved"/LBACI) and Councilman Alan Lowenthal (whom they'd help elect) urged enactment of "Proposition M," dubbed the "Long Beach Campaign Reform Act." Placed on the ballot by the City Council and approved by a vote of the people of Long Beach, it included limits on campaign contributions in candidate races acompanied by the following finding (still visible in LB Muni Code section 2.01.120 (E)):
"Officeholders are responding to high campaign costs by raising large amounts of money in off-election years. This fund-raising distracts them from important public matters, encourages contributions which may have a corrupting influence and gives incumbents an overwhelming and patently unfair fund-raising advantage over potential challengers...The integrity of the governmental process, the competitiveness of campaigns and public confidence in local officials are all diminishing..."
In 1995, the City Council (without a vote of the people and over the objections of a number of Prop M supporters) created "officeholder accounts" that let incumbents collect officeholder contributions in relatively small amounts outside of election cycles for mainly Council district items. In 2007, at the urging of Mayor Bob Foster and with the support of City Auditor Laura Doud, the Council raised the allowable officeholder account totals incumbents could collect, describing this as a way to use contributor-provided sums instead of spending taxpayer-budgeted sums for some Council office desired items.
This remained unchanged until mid-2014, when Robert Garcia took office as Mayor along with Council members Lena Gonzalez, Suzie Price, Stacy Mungo, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson joining Councilmembers Suja Lowenthal, Patrick O'Donnell, Dee Andrews and Al Austin. In 2015, Daryl Supernaw succeeded O'Donnell; in 2016 Jeannine Pearce succeeded Suja Lowenthal...and on split votes in 2015 and 2017, Council majorities proceeded to undo much of what LB voters sought to do roughly 20+ years earlier. The results are visible below.
(Feb 9, 2019, 11:30 p.m.) -- LBREPORT.com provides "Follow the Money" coverage below listing entities and individuals that gave money in the second half of 2018 to the "officeholder account" of re-elected Mayor Robert Garcia.
As the data below show, Mayor Garcia benefited significantly from changes made to LB laws by Council majorities during his first term of office. In 2015, a Council majority voted 5-3 (Austin, Price, Mungo dissenting, 4th dist. vacant) to triple the amounts LB incumbents can collect annually in contributions to their officeholder accounts. In April 2017, a Council majority voted (5-3, Supernaw, Price, Mungo dissenting) to politically weaponize their officeholder accounts by letting incumbents give sums from their "officeholder account" to help fund campaigns of their favored candidates running for other city, state and federal offices.
The net result allowed citywide incumbents (such as the Mayor) to collect up to $75,000 (up from $25,000 annually) with Councilmembers allowed to collect up to $30,000 annually (up from $10,000.) In the second half of 2018, Mayor Garcia collected $45,799.99 in contributions to his officeholder account (reaching $68,848.99 for the full year.)
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In the second half of 2018, Mayor Garcia used his officeholder account to give $5,500 to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (plus $400 for a print ad); $1,000 to the Long Beach Democratic Club; $1,000 to campaign to elect Betty Yee State Controller; and $1,000 to the campaign to elect Fiona Ma State Treasurer.
Garcia also used his officeholder account to give sums it listed as civic donations to the Rotary Club of LB ($750), United Cambodian Community ($500), Cambodia Town Film Festival ($1,000), CSULB Associated Students ($500). Centro Cha ($1,000) and Khmer Parent Association ($1,000)
Garcia's officeholder account ended 2018 with a cash balance of $8,635.88 and outstanding debts (unpaid bills) of $3,241.33.
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