April 26, 2022 Campaign Contributions (cont.)
A letter to the editor in the Yountville Sun was also part of the Public Comment at the Council meeting. The author brought up a few good points about campaign contribution limits. What are your thoughts? Comments? Feedback?
Here is the letter.
Thank you for the opportunity to offer a comment to the council. I was disappointed that the
majority of the council turned down an opportunity to add a discussion on campaign contribution
limits to a future meeting.
While my concern is not borne from any suspicion of a current or past council member, there is
ample evidence that money can corrupt the political process. Affluent individuals and corporations
are by their very nature able and willing to attempt to push their views onto a candidate by way of
their campaign donation.
The California limit of $4,900 per donation is reasonable in larger cities, given the significantly higher
cost of to run for office. Yountville is obviously different as the cost to run is low. What is especially
unique about our town is the outsized influence that tourist-focused businesses play on our daily
lives. Their cash allows them to push for policies that may benefit them, but not our citizens.
The notion that a campaign contribution limit is an attack on our free speech is false. Consider this
instead: those allowed to make large contribution get MORE free speech then the rest of us.
A discussion on lowering the campaign contribution limit is Yountville is appropriate and necessary.
The council should set aside the idea that this discussion is about them personally. I challenge the
council to recognize their responsibility in ensuring fairness in our political process now and into the
Thank you, Michael Borck
April 19, 2022 California law AB 571, which just went into effect, is meant to reduce the frequency in which local candidates raise substantial campaign funds from a single contributor and set a cap of $4,900 for City and County elections. There are also filing requirements with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) from donors and recipients.
This is currently the limit for Yountville, and it appears there are five, maybe six, people in Town who want this amount lowered. Is there “dark money” in Yountville? History of large donations?
Councilmember Knight stated the history of Yountville and how it has trended from smaller, individual contributions to a community populated by larger corporations and wealthy donors that could have an outsized influence on town politics. These are two different statements. An association is not a proof of causation. This talk about corporations and individuals with money. They have been here many years already. Where is the abuse in our community?
Did I miss the presentation of past years’ filings and documentation?
What if a family member wants to fund so your campaign doesn’t have to ask for donations? Also, a topic that the community missed at the recent Council meeting is that the Council member was also asking for a spending cap.
What Exactly Does $4,900 Buy You in Yountville in 2022? In this day? In this community? Inflation. It does take finances to campaign for public office. Yard signs. Ad in the local paper. What about a kick-off party or meet and greets in neighbors’ homes. All of these have a price tag attached. It adds up quickly. The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has strict guidelines that need to be followed. It’s the law.
Read the legal filing requirements.
Current California contribution guidelines based on the $4,900 cap.
California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Forms and requirements of candidates running for office.
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Borck’s letter to the editor. Most importantly, I felt it was imprudent of three council members to shut down the topic of campaign finance from being on a future agenda. Not only did this stop any further discussion by the Council, but it also did not allow for an assessment of the issue by our residents. Having watched the proceedings, I found this played out in a very disappointing way.
I agree that campaign contributions need to be set at a lower level in our small town Yountville. And residents need to remember how the mayor and certain council members limited the discussion about campaign contribution limits when they vote in June and November.
I would suggest Yountville needs an impartial third party to conduct an interactive candidate forum prior to the November elections for mayor and town council seats. My first choice would be the League of Women Voters and second Sharon Stensaas of the Yountville Sun.
Jim Mc Donald