You Tell Us: Campaign finance reform needed in Oakland

The Oakland Campaign Reform Act of 2008 was devised to promote good government and to protect Oakland’s electorate from the undue influence of money in the choice of our elected leaders.

Former Senator Don Perata has shown by his actions that he will not abide by those laws, even while he is running for the office of Mayor of Oakland, the position sacredly charged with guarding both the letter and the spirit of those laws.

Months before his TV ads were aired he had almost topped out on the spending limits he had agreed to stand by. Now his friends and employers (organizations that he consults for on an ongoing basis) have overshot the “independent expenditures” limits that were also established by the voters, thereby providing Mr. Perata with the excuse to spend even more money.

Out of the 9 other candidates for mayor, eight of them have pledged to continue following the law as Oaklanders intended it. Only Don Perata has thumbed his nose at his promise and at Oakland voters.

That’s why the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club joins with other Democratic Clubs and good government organizations to demand that: 1) the City Council, along with the City Attorney’s office, immediately enact legislation that corrects the loophole which is now being used to break the spending limits agreed to by all candidates, and 2) demand that the Public Ethics Commission move quickly to enforce all applicable laws.

The Wellstone Club has watched with horror while services in our federal, state, and local governments have decreased while ever more obscene amounts of money are poured into federal, state, and even local campaigns.

The effect of those dollars is the opposite of democracy. As more and more voters perceive that elections are just auctions to the highest bidder, fewer and fewer people choose to vote.

Oaklanders made a statement with this legislation that they did not want their city put on the auction block, and they do not deserve to have their desires ignored and their choices thwarted even by Don Perata.

Pamela Drake is the local politics chair of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.


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Filed under: Op-Ed


  1. Pamela Drake

    Please attend the Council Rules Committee tomorrow, Oct 1st at 10:45 AM, to demand that the City Council immediately move to close the loophole Perata and his supporters are using to violate our campaign reforms.

  2. Karen

    Pamela, tomorrow is not October 1st, rather September 30th. So is the meeting on Thursday the 30th or Friday the 1st?

  3. Karen

    I would like to know why the Wellstone Club is voting yes on Measure BB and Measure X.

  4. Ian P.


    If Don overspent before the IE cap was broken, then he broke the law (and this appears to not have been the case.) But if Don overspent after the agreement was ruled null and void, that means that he has the legal authority to spend.

    Pamela, Don doesn’t need your permission to run a campaign, and if you dont like the rules, then change them. But how dare you sit here on your high horse and accuse Perata of breaking rules that no longer apply. You should be sued for Libel and Slander.

  5. For me this is a distraction from the real issues in the campaign. I support Don Perata, not because he has or wants to spend more money than other candidates (I don’t even know if either are true) but because he has demonstrated strong and effective executive leadership. Believe in Oakland!

  6. Karen

    For anyone who is supporting Don Perata or is thinking about it, you should really look at all the articles that question Don’s ethics. So many people (journalists, bloggers, ordinary citizens) have found too many questionable finance activities by Don Perata.

    Here is one I’m hoping everyone will read. In the interest of full disclosure, I am supporting Joe Tuman. But no matter who you support, please read as well as share with your Oakland friends.

  7. Karen

    Here is another article, posted by another media source about the ethics of Don Perata:

  8. Karen

    Don Perata signed a pledge not to exceed this year’s spending limits. Here is what the Contra Costa TImes reported on September 14th:

    “All 10 candidates in the Oakland mayoral race signed a pledge to hold their spending to the $379,000 limit set by Public Ethics Commission. ”

    Why did Don go back on his word?

  9. OakGirl

    Honestly, Oakland’s campaign finance laws are a joke. The other candidates can sign the pledge and not worry because no one cares enough about them to give them the kind of money Don has raised. Individuals like Don because he gets stuff done.

    • Karen

      Oakgirl, sounds like you enjoy repeating things others have said. Don gets things done? Yes he does, he spends money from his Hope2010 cancer research ballot initiative and these are things not at all connected to cancer research. He spends the money on trying to influence outcomes of other elections, ballot initiatives and the like. He appeases people by spending a little money on worthy causes so people will look the other way while he spends a ton of money to influence outcomes.

      If he planned on spending about $1MM he never had to sign the pledge. But he did that, most likely, so people will think positive about him. He has the wool pulled over your eyes.

      People do care about the other candidates and here is hoping Joe Tuman is one of them that gets serious consideration.

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