History of the Political Reform Act

Print This PageUntil California voters imposed a revolutionary ballot initiative measure on the state's political arena, laws governing the conduct of public officials and campaign committees were few, weak and largely ignored. Then in 1974, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 9, giving birth to the Political Reform Act and a new, independent agency to administer, interpret and enforce its provisions. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) and that landmark law have served as a model for the nation and the democratic world ever since. The Act governs disclosure of political campaign contributions and spending by candidates and ballot measure committees. It also sets ethics rules for state and local government officials that impose strict limits on decisions or votes that affect the official's financial interests. The Act also regulates lobbyist's financial disclosure and lobbying practices related to the legislature and state agencies. The Political Reform Act is designed to assure that: State and local government serve all citizens equally, without regard to status or wealth; Public officials perform their duties impartially, without bias because of personal financial interests or the interests of financial supporters; Public officials disclose income and assets that could be affected by official actions and disqualify themselves from participating in decisions when they have conflicts of interest; Election campaign receipts and expenditures are fully and truthfully disclosed so voters are informed and improper practices are inhibited; Elections are fair; No laws or practices favor incumbents; The state ballot pamphlet gives useful information about state measures so voters can be less dependent on paid advertising for information; The activity of those who lobby the state legislature is regulated and finances disclosed to prevent improper influence on public officials; and Public officials and private citizens are given the means to vigorously enforce political reforms.
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