Mitzelfelt departs from anti-limit philosophy
August 24, 2011 9:25 AM
Natasha Lindstrom
Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO • Future candidates vying for office in San Bernardino County may have to abide by new campaign contribution limits, if reform proposed by county supervisors Tuesday develops into policy.

Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford raised the issue of contribution limits toward the end of the Board of Supervisors meeting in San Bernardino. She said her staff has been researching campaign policies of other local governments and that she’d like to hear input from the rest of the board.

In a reversal from his previous stance, 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he, too, was interested in looking into local contribution limits.

“That is a change in philosophy for me, but I do believe that we need to do something in this area,” Mitzelfelt, who represents the High Desert, said at the meeting.

When the civil grand jury recommended such reform in July 2009, Mitzelfelt told the Daily Press he didn’t believe in limits because he viewed campaign donations as political speech, only wanting to ensure all funds were reported to the public. Since a candidate’s own campaign spending isn’t capped, he’d argued, the limits would give wealthy people running for office an unfair edge. And he said people who knew how to game the system would find ways around them, such as Political Action Committees or independent expenditures.

By phone Tuesday, Mitzelfelt said he still was concerned about 1st Amendment issues, wealthy candidates having a greater advantage and the formation of obscure groups with mysterious financial backers. But he said limits seem to be working in other jurisdictions — more than 100 cities and counties — and that it’s time this county follows suit.

For more about possible campaign contribution limits, read the full story in Wednesday’s Daily Press. Get complete stories every day with the “exactly as printed” Daily Press E-edition, only $5 per month! Click here to try it free for 7 days. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.

Natasha Lindstrom may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at NLindstrom@VVDailyPress.com.