RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Supervisors are likely to pursue tighter disclosure requirements.

10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, February 15, 2011

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone withdrew his proposal Tuesday to impose campaign contribution limits on board and countywide candidates.

Stone’s decision came as colleagues voiced concern that the plan would unleash a torrent of independent expenditures not subject to limits.

“I am afraid that the real impact of this proposal and others is to empower those who would use independent expenditures,” Supervisor John Benoit said.

Riverside is the most populated county in the state without some form of campaign-finance limits for supervisors and countywide candidates. Limits already are in place for legislative, statewide and federal candidates.

Stone said he proposed the caps to level the playing field and prevent any one entity or individual from gaining a significant advantage.

“If you get on the wrong side of an issue, you can see some very wealthy organizations or individuals try to effectuate the outcome of elections,” Stone said.

He cited the campaign last year of Frank Robles, who unsuccessfully challenged Sheriff Stan Sniff in June. The Robles campaign received $300,000 in direct campaign contributions from Bell Gardens-based Southern California Braiding Co., records show.

For supervisors, Stone proposed a limit of $5,000 per calendar year from any one source, entity or person. Corporations and limited liability corporations would be barred from direct contributions.

For countywide candidates, such as the district attorney and sheriff, Stone’s proposal suggested a $10,000 per-year limit.

In opposing the proposal, Benoit cited his election last year. The Riverside Sheriff’s Association made more than $130,000 in non-monetary contributions to his opponent. Even with campaign limits, Benoit said, the association could have still spent that money through an independent expenditure committee.

Supervisor John Tavaglione said limits could force people to try and get around the rules.

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