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Complete Text

CITY OF SEATTLE

ORDINANCE 124212

COUNCIL BILL 117814

AN ORDINANCE relating to public financing of political campaigns; providing for the submission to voters of the City, at an election to be held on November 5, 2013, of a proposition to lift the limit on regular property taxes under Chapter 84.55 RCW and authorize the City to levy additional property taxes for up to six years for the purposes of establishing a public matching funds program for financing City Council election campaigns when certain qualifying conditions are met by candidates, and limiting campaign expenditures on City election campaigns of those who voluntarily enter the Public Campaign Financing Program; establishing a campaign matching fund account in the City Treasury; amending Subchapter V of chapter 2.04 the Seattle Municipal Code and adding new sections to chapter 2.04; and ratifying and confirming certain prior acts.

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle established a system for partial public financing of election campaigns in 1978; and

WHEREAS, the Fair Campaign Practices Act enacted following the passage of Initiative 134 in 1992 prohibited the use of public funds to finance state and local political campaigns; and

WHEREAS, in 2008, the Washington State Legislature amended RCW 42.17.128, which was later re-codified as 42.17A.550, allowing counties, cities and towns to establish public campaign financing programs funded through local revenue sources with the approval of voters; and

WHEREAS, in 2008, the City Council created through Resolution 31061 a Campaign Public Financing Advisory Committee (CPFAC) to evaluate public financing and develop a proposed program model; and

WHEREAS, the CPFAC issued a report recommending the City Council advance a proposal to create a public financing program for local election campaigns for consideration by Seattle voters; and

WHEREAS, in December of 2012, the City Council requested the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) to review the 2008 CPFAC report and provide updated recommendations for Council consideration; and

WHEREAS, in March of 2013, the SEEC submitted a report to the City Council recommending specific public financing program parameters; and

WHEREAS, the City Council is committed to systemically improving the local electoral process through measures that reduce barriers to entry for candidates and broaden public participation in the electoral process; and

WHEREAS, the City Council is concerned about the rising costs associated with local election campaigns and the potential negative impact on public participation in the democratic process; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF SEATTLE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Findings

Based on City Council and public discussions with campaign public financing researchers and practitioners on January 31 and February 13, 2013 and recommendations from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission in their March 28, 2013 letter to the City Council, the City finds that it is in the best interest of the public to strengthen the local electoral process by reducing the financial barriers to entry for prospective candidates, increasing the role of small donors and diversifying the pool of donors to City Council races. The City finds there is public benefit to creating a voluntary program available to candidates running for the Seattle City Council to obtain public matching funds for certain political campaign activities if specific criteria and conditions are met.

Section 2. Administration of the Campaign Financing Program

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission is charged with implementing and administering the Seattle Public Campaign Financing Program (“Program”). Within 180 days of voter approval of the Program the Commission must:

a) promulgate rules implementing the Program;

b) recommend or propose legislation and changes to the Seattle Municipal Code as necessary to implement the Program;

c) develop and make available to the public all forms and documents necessary to participate in the Program; and

d) establish processes and procedures for appeal of decisions of the Executive Director of the Ethics and Elections Commission.

Section 3. Subchapter V of Chapter 2.04 of the Seattle Municipal Code, which was last amended by Council Bill 117808, is amended as follows:

Subchapter V

((Voluntary Expenditure Limitations)) Seattle Public Campaign Financing Program

Section 4. Added to Subchapter V of Chapter 2.04 of the Seattle Municipal Code are Sections 2.04.400, 2.04.405, 2.04.410, 2.04.415 2.04.420, 2.04.422, 2.04.425, 2.04.430, 2.04.435, 2.04.440 2.04.445, 2.04.450, and 2.04.455 as follows:

2.04.400 Definitions.

The following terms, when used and capitalized in this ordinance, are defined as follows:

“Campaign Program Fund” means the fund established as the repository for the levy proceeds or other funds to support the Program;

“Cap” means maximum allowed Total Candidate Funds;

“Commission” means the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission;

“Director” means the Executive Director of the Commission;

“Matchable Contribution” means a campaign contribution that is certified by the Director as having met the requirements of 2.04.405;

“Matching Funds” means the public funds given by the City to a Participating Candidate;

“Participating Candidate” means a person who has been certified by the Director as having met the requirements of 2.04.410;

“Participation Agreement” means a contract between a Participating Candidate and the City of Seattle detailing the responsibilities of the parties to the agreement;

“Program” means the Seattle Public Campaign Financing Program;

“Statement of Intent” means a statement by a candidate of his or her intention to participate in the Program; and

“Total Candidate Funds” means a candidate’s cash on hand plus expenditures plus debts and obligations.

2.04.405 Matchable Contribution.

A Matchable Contribution for the Program must be a monetary contribution of no less than $10.00 from a human who resides in the City of Seattle at the time the contribution is made. The contribution may be of any amount up to that allowed by 2.04.370.

2.04.410 Program Eligibility.

To qualify as a Participating Candidate and be eligible to receive public matching funds, a person must:

(a) have filed a Statement of Intent with the Commission no earlier than January 1 of the year of the election and no later than 14 days after filing a Declaration of Candidacy for a Seattle City Council position with King County Elections;

(b) have filed a Participation Agreement with the Commission no later than 14 days after filing a Declaration of Candidacy for a Seattle City Council position with King County Elections;

(c) have filed a Declaration of Candidacy for a Seattle City Council position with King County Elections;

(d) be opposed by at least one person who has filed a Declaration of Candidacy for the same Seattle City Council position with King County Elections who is still in the election after the date set for withdrawal from the election, and who has at least $6,000 in Total Candidate Funds in support of his or her candidacy;

(e) have received at least 600 Matchable Contributions between filing a Statement of Intent with the Director and no later than 21 days after the last day to file a Declaration of Candidacy for a Seattle City Council position with King County Elections;

(f) agree to participate in a minimum of three public debates or candidate forums with at least one candidate during the course of the campaign; and

(g) have submitted all necessary documentation for qualification no later than 21 days after the last day to file a Declaration of Candidacy for a Seattle City Council position with King County Elections in the year of the election.

A candidate who qualifies for the Program is qualified for both the primary and general elections.

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