SLO County Board of Supervisors set $25,000 campaign limit

November 21, 2020

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Friday to set campaign contribution limits at $25,000, with Supervisor Bruce Gibson dissenting.

Hundreds of community members called in asking that the county go with an forthcoming state limit of $4,700. Opponents of the $25,000 ceiling voiced concerns that the higher limit would lead to corruption. Others argued that the county should not make a decision until a replacement for deceased Supervisor Adam Hill is seated.

Government watchdog Mike Brown said he is against limiting campaign donations while permitting unlimited independent expenditures — advertising spending from groups not working with candidate — because it will create an unfair playing field. Brown wanted to bar donations from people or businesses contracted with the county.

In the past, there were no limits on campaign contributions for county races. Then last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation limiting campaign contributions to local candidates to $4,700 in cities and counties that do not have their own contribution limits. Those limits go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Supervisor John Peschong wants local control. He noted that while Gov. Newsom signed the legislation limiting contributions for local races that do not set their own limits, the campaign contribution limit for his office is $31,000. Peschong also voiced concerns about independent expenditures overwhelming elections.

Gibson said 700 comments and letters supported lower contribution limits, while only one speaker was in favor of the $25,000 limit. Evidence, Gibson said, that supervisors Peschong, Arnold and Compton appear to be the only three people in the county in favor of the higher limit.

Rebutting Gibson, Compton noted that opponents of the $25,000 limit sent out a call for action, which requested recipients return a form letter objecting to the $25,000 limit or call in, and that the speakers were not reflective of the entire community.

In response to concerns that the board should not take a vote with an empty supervisor seat, Compton said this was the last meeting in which the county can assert local concern.

Gibson also argued against having the SLO County District Attorney’s Office enforce the limits, while questioning District Attorney Dan Dow’s ethics. Peschong, Arnold and Compton said Gibson’s accusations were unfounded, and that Dow has displayed a high level of integrity while in office.

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For once I agree with Gibson. Setting this high limit on individual contributions makes one thing crystal clear –

The county is telling the voters that they can not run an election or a re-election campaign by convincing many, many smaller contributors – but instead want to rely more on a few very large contributors. Less work on their part (laziness). Also a few, large contributors will very likely want some ‘favors’ for their money – and the candidates will be beholden to them. Politics in the rawest.

Think about what that says about our politics. Why is it better to get 10 donors of $25,000 each vs. getting 10,000 donors of $25 each?

Or get one PAC, Union or other entity to spend $1,000,000, this was allowed before and still is allowed.

So lets close that loophole next. It doesn’t mean we should raise this limit to compensate.

Maybe but funny how not one of those who said not to raise the limit said anything about stopping the PAC, Union or other money . Can’t have both, keep the limit low but allow the dark money.

I like how none of the comments address the actual limit but instead rip on Gibson. Hey, I can’t stand Gibson either and disagree with 90% of the things he says, however I also think it was wrong to raise the limit. All these local politicians are like pigs in a trough and will never say no getting more money, so I’m not surprised that almost all voted to increase the limit. We need to starve the beast here and get corrupt money out of local politics. Otherwise we’ll continue to see scumbag drug dealers like Helios Dayspring make giant bribes in the form of campaign contributions to local candidates like he did with Hill, Addis, Beraud and the rest of that crew.

Bruce stood up for the average citizen and reducing corruption. I wonder what the naysayers have in mind for the future of our county when fat cats will rule.

I’m not sure where this conversation will go, but Bruce is the kind of Democrat who gives Democrats a bad name. And I’m a Democrat…

Gibson should be for it. He’s gonna need it. Hey Bruce, your the last one that should be questioning anyone’s ethics. You might want to look at your own actions over the years. Just a thought.

Bruce, I am sure you could find something useful to do because you’ve become a dinosaur as a Board member. Time for you to retire.