While on the Santa Monica City Council, I played a leading role initiating the July 2001 amendment to the City's municipal code that requires financial disclosure for all initiative and referendum campaigns during the signature gathering period, instead of just the regular calendar-based dates as required by state law, which didn't necessarily correspond to local timelines. Then years later as a private citizen in 2015, I successfully sponsored further improvements to the disclosure requirements to the City Council.
With our long local history of initiative and referendum in Santa Monica, it is essential to ensure the residents right to know.
SM Municipal Code (as amended, July 24, 2001)
11.04.165 Disclosure requirements during signature gathering periods for initiatives, referenda and recalls in the City of Santa Monica.
(a) In order to ensure that any person interested in the finances of any committee that is raising or spending funds to support or oppose an initiative, recall or referendum, such committees shall file their financial disclosure documents on dates that are within the time period in which signatures are gathered.
(b) For initiatives and recalls, campaign disclosure statements shall be filed on the fifteenth day of the signature gathering period covering days one through ten, on the thirtieth day covering days eleven through twenty-five, and every thirty days thereafter for the thirty-day period ending five days earlier through the end of the signature-gathering period.
(c) For referenda, which have a thirty-day signature gathering period, campaign disclosure statements shall be filed on the tenth day of the period covering days one through five, on the twenty-fifth day of the period covering days six through twenty, and by the sixtieth day after the end of the period covering days twenty-one through thirty.
(d) Otherwise, campaign statements shall be completed and filed as specified in State law. (Added by Ord. No. 2016CCS § 1, adopted 7/24/01)
How it happened
March 27, 2001 City Council meeting
Agenda item 13-F: Request of Mayor Feinstein to direct staff to examine ways of improving the initiative process in Santa Monica and return with recommendations. (heard with item 7-D amending and adding various sections clarifying election procedures to the Santa Monica Municipal Code; and status report on regulation of campaign financing)
July 10, 2001 City Council meeting
Agenda item 7-C: Ordinance Adding Section 11.04.175 to the Municipal Code Relating to Initiative Petitions
Direction to staff to return with ordinance - Motion by Mayor Feinstein, seconded by Councilmember McKeown, to direct staff to research and return on July 24, with an ordinance requiring campaign disclosure requirements during the initiative, recall, and referendum process. The motion was approved by the following vote:
AYES: Councilmembers O'Connor, McKeown, Genser, Mayor Pro Tem Bloom, Mayor Feinstein
NOES: Councilmembers Holbrook, Katz
July 24, 2001 City Council meeting
Agenda item 7-F: Emergency Ordinance Adding Disclosure Filing Requirements Applicable to Committees Supporting And Opposing Ballot Measures
7-F: Introduction and adoption of emergency Ordinance No. 2016 (CCS) entitled: "AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA ESTABLISHING ADDITIONAL DISCLOSURE FILING REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO CAMPAIGN COMMITTEES SUPPORTING AND OPPOSING BALLOT MEASURES," was presented.
Member of the public Tom Larmore spoke in general support of the proposed ordinance, provided some suggestions for the covered filing periods, and questioned the emergency nature of the proposal.
Members of the public Chuck Allord and Don Gray, spoke in opposition to the proposed ordinance.
Discussion ensued relative to the emergency nature of the proposal, the need for campaign contribution and funding disclosure, the due dates for campaign statements and the periods to be covered, and the applicability of the requirements to measures.
On order of the Mayor, the City Council recessed at 8:43 p.m., and reconvened at 9:00 p.m., with all members present.
Motion by Councilmember McKeown, seconded by Mayor Feinstein, to adopt the emergency ordinance, reading by title only and waiving further reading thereof, and amending Section 11.04.165(b) that the first report be due on 15th day of the signature-gathering period covering the first ten days, the next on the 30th day covering days 11 through 25, on the 60th day covering 26-55, and every 30 days thereafter for the 3-day period ending five days previously; and amend Section 11.04.165(c) so that the first report is filed on the 10th day of the signature-gathering period covering days 1-5, the second report on the 25th day covering days 6-20, and a final report on the 60th day covering days 21-30. The motion was approved by the following vote:
AYES: Councilmembers Genser, McKeown, O'Connor, Mayor Pro Tem Bloom, Mayor Feinstein
NOES: Councilmembers Katz, Holbrook
Councilmember Katz stated, for the record, that although he agrees with the ordinance, he voted against the motion because he believes that it is intended for an upcoming referendum.
Councilmember Holbrook stated, for the record, that he voted against the motion because he does not believe an emergency exists.
January 7, 2015 Request to City Council: Strengthen Referendum Disclosure Provisions in the Santa Monica Municipal Code
Here is the text of my request to the City Council on January 7, 2015, which led to the item being agendized on the October 27, 2015 City Council agenda.