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Friday, January 01, 2016 12:59 PM

California Referendum Would Force Politicians to Wear Logos of Donors

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In California, citizens can propose a referendum on anything if they gather enough signatures.

John Cox, a wealthy attorney who made a fortune in real estate, is tired of politicians who are bought and owned by corporate interests.

He is putting up $1 million to gather signatures for a referendum that would Force Politicians to Wear Donor Logos.

A wealthy Republican wants to require unprecedented transparency in California by forcing state politicians to plaster their suits and dresses with the logos of their top 10 donors -- and voters fed up with those politicians may actually get the chance to vote on the idea in November.

The unusual dress code is offered in a proposed ballot initiative that backers say likely will be cleared for signature collection within the next week or two. Then, 365,880 valid signatures will have to be submitted for a spot on the ballot.

Initiative sponsor John Cox, an attorney who owes his fortune to real estate, says he doesn’t foresee a challenge in the threshold, which is relatively low due to poor 2014 voter turnout. Cox says he expects a boost from popular anti-establishment sentiment reflected in the presidential race.

Cox says he’s seeking the endorsements of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, both of whom have rallied passionate supporters in part by denouncing their rivals as indentured servants to corporations and other wealthy donors.

“It’s going to be immensely popular,” Cox says. “We have a system under which people who want something from government fund the campaigns of the people who make those decisions. In any other solar system that would be considered corrupt.”

“It actually would raise some fascinating issues if it were to be applied,” says George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. “Politicians could challenge the law as applied in how the determination is made of the top donors when most money may come from individuals,” he says, as “lobbyists often donate as individuals rather than as representatives of their companies or clients.”

Timothy Zick, a law professor at the College of William and Mary, is more skeptical of the initiative's ability to survive a legal challenge. The idea, he says, “strikes me as a textbook case of invalid compulsory speech.”

But Cox says he can’t imagine who would want to have their name on any such lawsuit, and says that finding donor information online is too arduous.
Cut out the Middleman

I have commented on more than one occasion about waste inherent in the current system.

Since lobbyists write virtually every piece of legislation, my sarcastic proposal was to cut out the middlemen by directly electing lobbyists. At least we would have some bit of honesty.

Cox's referendum would accomplish nearly the same thing.

Truth in Lending Extension

Although Fed members are appointed, not elected, how about JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, and National Association of Realtors (NAR) logos on Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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