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Initiative to End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties Gains Traction

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

In late June, IVP co-chairs Steve Peace and Jeff Marston submitted an initiative to the California Attorney General to end taxpayer funding of partisan activities, including party conventions and elections for party central committee members. Since then, the initiative has generated a notable amount of buzz.

Read the full initiative here.

On July 1, U-T San Diego's Christopher Cadelago focused specifically on the aspect of the initiative that would require a nonpartisan presidential primary for California:

"Under the proposal, political parties would still have the option of holding a presidential primary only open to party members. However, they would have to fund the counting of the votes — a cost currently covered by government. Currently, parties have the option of holding open or closed primaries. In the latest presidential primary, Democrats opened their ballot to all voters, while Republicans required GOP affiliation to participate."

Under the initiative, political parties would have three options. The first is to use the results of the new primary to select delegates. If the parties desired to restrict voter participation, they would have to pay for the extra costs to produce the segregated tallies. The third option would be to find alternative election systems that would not require public funding, such as online election systems.

"Peace, a Democrat, and Marston, a Republican, say the goal is to end public financing of what amounts to internal members-only elections."

San Diego Reader picked up the story on July 10 with a story titled, No peace for the parties:

"Last week, Peace announced on his group’s website that he and sidekick Jeff Marston, a lobbyist and onetime GOP assemblyman, have submitted a proposed voter initiative to the office of California attorney general Kamala Harris that, if certified for the ballot and passed, would kill the funding practice. “The ‘End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties’ initiative submitted by IVP would prohibit the State of California from spending taxpayer funds and using state administrative resources to run private party elections,” says Peace’s announcement. “For all public elections, California would continue to administer the state-funded non-partisan primary system whereby all candidates and all voters participate in a single-ballot primary."

Despite the 2000 Supreme Court ruling that political parties are private organizations, states nationwide spent over $400 million to pay for the activities of these private organizations in 2012. The End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties Initiative seeks to put an end to this in California.

Read more on the initiative and sign the petition today.

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