SF Board of Supervisors votes to support proposed statewide ban on corporate contributions to California candidates

SAN FRANCISCO - On Tuesday, April 6th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to support Assembly Bill 20 (Lee and Kalra), a ban on corporate contributions to candidates statewide. Locally, the supporting resolution was introduced by Supervisor Dean Preston, and backed by Daybreak Executive Director Jackie Fielder, a former corporate-free candidate for State Senate. AB 20 would prohibit a candidate for elective office in California from receiving a contribution from a business entity, and a business entity from making a contribution to a candidate for elective office. 

This morning, Assemblymembers Kalra and Lee joined Supervisors Preston, Ronen and Haney along with Jackie Fielder to voice support. Ronen and Haney are both members of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, a board on which many State electeds sit. 

“During my campaign, I rejected all corporate contributions because I represent my constituents and not big business special interests,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San Jose). “With deepening income inequality and wealthy people afforded more political influence, it’s imperative we commit to our values that every person has an equal voice in the political process by addressing its systemic inequities.”

Already trailing behind, California would join 22 states who already impose outright bans on corporations directly contributing to campaigns for elective office. 

San Francisco voters have consistently supported clean money elections and campaign finance reform, from strict contribution limits passed in 2000 to 2019’s “Sunlight on Dark Money” initiative. San Francisco already bans corporate contributions to candidate campaigns for local office, a policy familiar to our local state reps who will have to decide on their support for a statewide ban. So far, none of the city’s state representatives -- Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting, or State Senator Scott Wiener -- have endorsed the bill.

“Right now, as we encourage new generations of upstarts, activists with lived experience, and political outsiders, to get involved in the political process and run for office, those who take clean money pledges are at a tremendous disadvantage, and are effectively silenced by massive spending by corporations in these races,” Said Supervisor Preston. 

“Last year, as a corporate-free, first-time candidate for state senate, I raised more than $777,000. If I can refuse corporate contributions, anyone can.” said Fielder. 

In 2020, politicians and campaigns in California accepted a total of $2.1 million from PG&E, according to ABC10’s analysis of state campaign finance data, both during the company’s bankruptcy and after it pleaded guilty to 85 felonies. Last cycle, spending by just five companies in support of Prop 22 -- Uber, Lyft, Postmates, DoorDash, and Instacart -- accounted for upwards of $224 million. Imagine if they had just given that to their workers instead of consultants?

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