Media contact: Charlsie Chang | Charlsie.Chang@asm.ca.gov t| 626-898-2395
SACRAMENTO, CA – On his first day in office and the day of his swearing-in ceremony, Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-25) has introduced AB 20, also known as the “Clean Money Act,” which will root out corporate special interest money in elections.
“Corporate special interests do not represent the will of the people,” said Lee, the youngest Asian American and first Gen-Z state legislator in California history. “During my campaign, I rejected all campaign contributions from corporations because I am accountable to my community, not powerful corporate special interests.”
Even without corporate campaign contributions, Assemblymember Alex Lee, 25, won triumphantly in a landslide through grassroots organizing and by connecting with constituents.
“This is the first bill I’m introducing – during the election, I saw firsthand the undue influence corporations have on our elections, and it’s polluting our democracy,” said Lee.
Each year, business entities contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to campaigns across California, with over $785 million spent on the 2020 election in California alone. In order to stay competitive in their races, many candidates are pressured to accept the money from these business entities.
“The rich are growing richer while millions of Californians are hurting during this pandemic induced recession; the k-shaped recovery continues to exacerbate inequality,” said Lee. “Only by empowering everyday Californians and matching the power of special interests can we make a democracy that works for everyone.”
Corporations are already completely barred from making direct contributions to federal candidates and are barred from contributing to candidates in 22 states. The intent of the “Clean Money Act” is to build on that foundation and go a step further to bar all business entities from contributing to candidates running for office in California.
“The bill also seeks to adopt publicly financed elections,” said Lee. “Publicly financed elections have already been implemented in 13 other states throughout the country and can even the playing field.”
According to a 2018 Common Cause report, publicly financed elections would eliminate the need for candidates to perpetually fundraise, and candidates and officials would spend more time with their constituents and on the issues their communities are facing.
“Public financing also breaks down barriers of entry into running for public office, providing the opportunity for more nontraditional candidates like women and people of color to participate,” said Lee. “It also allows for more people to run for office that aren’t independently wealthy or depend on the wealth of corporate special interests.”