Big ‘Democracy Dollars’: ACLU drops $100,000 on Oakland’s campaign finance ballot measure

Posted on August 25, 2022

East Bay Insiders / August 25, 2022


Days until Election Day: 75.

—TOWN DOLLARS—The campaign in support of Measure W, Oakland’s campaign finance reform ballot measure, appears to be readying a well-financed push to bring so-called “democracy dollars” to the city’s elections.

—The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California contributed $100,000 on Wednesday to the committee supporting Oakland’s Fair Elections Act, according to a campaign finance report. The expenditure comes days after $25,000 was plunked into the effort by James Heerwagen, the chairman of Voters Right to Know.

—Measure W would enact a system of public funding for Oakland elections used in Seattle. Oakland voters would receive “democracy dollars,” a set of four vouchers worth $25 each that can be given to campaigns of their choosing.

—Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang touted the idea, and locally, Rep. Ro Khanna is among its supporters. The theory is “democracy dollars” limits the power of special interests money from dominating local elections and evens the playing field for lesser known candidates.

—Early returns from Seattle suggests the voucher program can place greater electoral pressures on long-time incumbents and allows for a more diverse field of candidates.

—The ballot measure also seeks to allocate greater resources to the Oakland Public Ethics Commission in order to implement the law, if approved by voters. The cost of the program is expected to be $4 million.

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