A two-year-long study of the county's campaign contributions law has finally been completed, and the original architect of that law--septuagenarian OC campaign watchdog Shirley Grindle--isn't thrilled.
"All hell is breaking lose," she chuffed when answering the phone a short while ago.
As we've written about before, July 2008 saw the county Board of Supervisors appoint a committee to discuss reforming and updating OC's TINCUP ("Times Is Now, Clean Up Politics") ordinance, which limits the amount of money that candidates for county-wide office can raise from individual donors.
Grindle, who wrote the law in the 1970s, had called for changes to TINCUP. She wants better enforcement of the ordinance; right now, she sees herself as the only person keeping an eye on candidates by tracking their fundraising on business cards and notifying them if they violate the rules.
Besides Grindle, the committee was composed mainly of the staffers, campaign consultants and lawyers for the five supervisors. In near-monthly meetings, they went line by line through the ordinance, updating its language and often getting into tense discussions over disagreements. The final documents being presented to the Board of Supervisors reflects those disagreements, laying out areas of "consensus" and "no consensus."
Grindle says she believes the proposed revised TINCUP law is not only weaker and more favorable to incument politicians, but also doesn't solve the problem she was hoping to solve two years ago: enforcement. It will leave enforcement in the hands of the District Attorney, who Grindle says doesn't pay any attention to the law--though the DA's office strenuously disagrees with that idea. She wants a commission or an appointed officer to oversee the law instead of the elected DA.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider whether to place the proposed revision to TINCUP on the November 2010 ballot. That's the last day they can do so if they want to get it on this year's ballot. The draft revised ordinance--which you can view here--leaves the individual contribution limit at $1,700.
Grindle sent us a copy of the speech she plans to give at Tuesday's meeting, and it doesn't mince words when addressing the board. A taste: "WHAT A DEAL!! YOU GET THE GOODIES AND THE PUBLIC IS LEFT IN THE LURCH! I WOULD RATHER SEE TINCUP REPEALED THAN TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH A SHAM ON THE PUBLIC."