“Money in politics: Finance, regulation and disclosure in California’s ballot initiative process”

Listen to KPCC’s Air Talk:

As we look to the November ballot, this is expected to be a record year for citizen initiatives in California with more than a hundred already proposed and filed with the Secretary of State.

Enacted in 1911, California’s citizens’ initiative process allows citizens the opportunity to put their own propositions on the state ballot. But is the average voter as well equipped to deal with complex legislation as elected legislators and their full-time staffs?

While direct democracy is the intent, the process of qualifying and passing initiatives in such a large state allows monied interests to wield big clout.

Do you think California’s initiative process is controlled more by large industries, labor unions and wealthy individuals than by voters? If so, do you have ideas for reforming the process? Would you ban initiative financing that comes from out-of-state? Do you think citizen initiatives are a waste of time and money and should be scrapped altogether?


John Eastman, professor of law and community service at Chapman University

Richard Hasen, Chancellor’s professor of law and political science at University of California, Irvine

Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School

John Matsusaka, USC Charles F. Sexton chair in American enterprise, professor of finance and business economics, and executive director of Initiative and Referendum Institute

Pete Peterson, interim dean of the School of Public Policy and executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University

Peter Scheer, executive director of First Amendment Coalition


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