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Media Coverage
Spending Limit Proposal Tabled
February 27, 1997



Thursday, February 27, 1997
Section: news
Page: A03

RICHMOND The City Council has killed an attempt by one of its members to set a voluntary spending limit for local elections. 

The proposal would have allowed those who abided by the spending limit to accept larger individual donations. 

As soon as the item was introduced, Councilman Alex Evans moved to table it an action which prohibits any further discussion before a vote. His motion passed 5-3. 

Evans said simply that Prop. 208 imposed a contribution limit and he wanted everyone to abide by it. 

Councilman Tom Butt interpreted the Tuesday vote as an attempt by some council members to preserve the power of large donors. 

"I have a political crusade, and that is to get rid of big money interests in Richmond city politics," he said Wednesday. 

Butt proposed the spending limits. He said he planned to ask that they be set at $25,000 for a council candidate and $35,000 a mayoral contender. 

Some council members admitted that their votes were determined at least partly by whom would be helped, or hurt, by the limit. 

Councilman Richard Griffin, one of the four running for re-election this November, had raised $24,880 by the end of 1996, before the Prop. 208 restrictions went into effect Jan. 1. 

It would not help him to have a higher contribution rate, since he is already at the spending limit. 

"My thoughts about it are, let's live with the $100 limit," Griffin said Wednesday. 

In contrast, Councilman John Marquez had raised only $1,800 in the last six months of 1996. He had a cash balance of $2,680. Marquez would potentially benefit from a spending limit, since it would allow him to raise larger individual donations and catch up to Griffin more quickly. 

Evans accused Butt on Wednesday of proposing the spending limit to help allies Marquez and Corbin. 

"This was an attempt to raise the contribution limit by Tom Butt to help his friends, pure and simple," Evans said. 

On the other hand, Evans himself admitted his vote was in part an attempt to help Griffin. 

Prop. 208 works this way: 

It limits candidates in cities of Richmond's size to accepting contributions of no more than $100 per donor. 

However, if the City Council voted for a voluntary spending limit, it would give candidates a choice: take their money in $100 donations and spend as much as they want, or accept contributions of up to $250, and spend no more than the limit. 

Voting to table the proposal were Evans, Griffin and council members Nat Bates, Irma Anderson and Lesa McIntosh. 

Butt, Marquez and Donna Powers voted no. Mayor Rosemary Corbin abstained.