AP - Democratic Phil Angelides, who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from business interests in his bid for governor, broke with some of his party's most influential supporters Thursday and endorsed a campaign finance-reform initiative on the November ballot.
Democratic Phil Angelides, who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from business interests in his bid for governor, broke with some of his party's most influential supporters Thursday and endorsed a campaign finance-reform initiative on the November ballot.
The initiative, sponsored by the California Nurses Association, would limit campaign contributions and authorize public funding for state candidates.
"I can't tell you with 100 percent certainty that this will work, but it will be a heck of a lot better than what we have now, where big money, HMOs, insurance companies, oil companies, are dictating too many policies in the state of California," Angelides told a roomful of nurses at the association's headquarters in Oakland.
The move sets him apart from Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said he opposes the type of public financing that would be implemented under Proposition 89.
Earlier this month, Schwarzenegger said he opposes public financing of elections and any tax increases. Proposition 89 would raise corporate taxes 0.2 percent to help pay for the program.
"I have seen public financing in Europe, and it doesn't work, either," the governor said. "So I think that we still, even though our system is not perfect ... it is still better when you compare the two systems."
Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Matt David called Angelides' endorsement hypocritical since he received millions of dollars from a Sacramento developer during his primary fight against state Controller Steve Westly.
Angelo Tsakopoulos, a longtime Angelides patron, formed an independent committee with his daughter that spent $8.7 million to boost the Democrat's candidacy.
Angelides also attended a Beverly Hills fundraiser this week featuring former President Clinton, which brought in an estimated $5 million for Angelides and the state Democratic Party.
Angelides, a multimillionaire land developer, defended his own history of accepting money from business interests, saying under the state's current fundraising rules he simply could not win a gubernatorial race if he rejected big-dollar donations.
"When I was a college student, I got involved in politics at a time when what mattered most was your energy and your enthusiasm, not the size of your bank account," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We have a governor and a state government that's doing the bidding of those powerful interests."
Nurses Association Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro hailed Angelides' announcement.
"We were stunned, and the nurses were stunned, because we thought that showed so much courage," she said.
The proposition, modeled after laws in Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, would sharply reduce campaign contribution limits for state races and offer public financing to candidates who choose to forgo trying to raise hefty campaign accounts.
The measure would allow most donors to give no more than $1,000 per election to candidates for governor and $500 per election to legislative candidates. The current limits are $22,300 for governor, $5,600 for other statewide offices and $3,300 for legislative candidates.
To qualify, a candidate would have to collect a certain amount of signatures and $5 contributions, which would go into a public financing fund.
Political parties and so-called small donor committees could give more.
The initiative is supported by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which has criticized both Republicans and Democrats for taking special interest money.