Sierra Club on the carpet

The following letter was addressed to Steven Amerikaner, city attorney.

I am writing to request that a formal investigation be held into the political activities of the Sierra Club prior to the recent City Council election of April 11, 2000. It appears that the organization violated the strict requirements of the $100 per person campaign contribution limit.

Section 1.10.02 (b) (2) of the Malibu Municipal code states that:

“No person shall make to any committee which supports or opposes any candidate or candidates for City Council, and no such committee shall accept from any such person a contribution or contributions totaling more than one hundred dollars ($100) per election.”

Attached is a copy of the Sierra Club membership application which states that “The Sierra Club. . .enables its members to work towards electing candidates with strong voting records on environmental protection.” In addition, the application offers memberships for up to $1,250, and in phone interviews, Sierra Club personnel indicated that there are no limits on contributions.

Prior to the election, the Sierra Club took out several large newspaper advertisements specifically endorsing candidates Carolyn Van Horn, Walter Keller and John Wall. In addition, the Sierra Club sponsored citywide phone banks in the days prior to the election with paid telemarketers who stated that they were calling from the Sierra Club and were endorsing these candidates.

The purpose of Section 1.10.02 (b) (2) of the Municipal Code was to prevent big money interests from “buying” a city election in Malibu. The $100 per person limit is too restrictive in my opinion and should be raised to at least $200, as $100 only buys 50 mailers in a town with over 8,000 registered voters. That notwithstanding, to my knowledge, all of the other groups involved in the campaign were diligent in strictly adhering to this limitation. The Sierra Club’s apparent violation challenges the fairness which is the essence of the city’s campaign laws.

Please call me at (310) 457-2483 to let me know the disposition of this request and if there is a way I can be of assistance.

Anne Hoffman

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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