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Indian Wells businessman is spending $1 million to change the way California politicians are elected

The Desert Sun

Indian Wells businessman is spending $1 million to change the way California politicians are elected

By: Jesse Marx

Sept. 27, 2017

Republican businessman John Cox knows that the best way to root out corruption in Sacramento is by weakening the influence of money in politics.

That’s why he’s pushing — while running for governor — a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would divide each of the state’s 120 districts into 100 neighborhoods, each with its own representative. Those representatives would act as a volunteer caucus and elect one member to go to Sacramento and work on their behalf, rather than donors.

The size of the Legislature would not change. But the votes of politicians in Sacramento would be judged by the neighborhood representatives, potentially giving less control to both unions and big businesses, among others, in the state capitol.

“That’s got to end,” Cox told The Desert Sun on Wednesday during a stop in Coachella Valley. He’s based in Rancho Santa Fe, but owns a home in Indian Wells.

In theory, the people running for neighborhood representation would need to reach significantly fewer people and therefore spend less money on their campaigns. California is home to nearly 40 million people, but its Assembly members at the moment represent on average close to 500,000 people. For Senators, that number is close to one million.

Cox has never held office but made a name for himself in 2016 by pushing another initiative that, although unsuccessful, would have forced politicians to wear the logos of their top 10 donors on their suits, like NASCAR drivers. That attention appears to be paying off.

READ MORE: What if politicians wore donors on their sleeve?

A recent poll by the UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies of likely California voters put Cox in second place behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, but slightly ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both of whom are Democrats. Republican Assembly member Travis Allen of Huntington Beach was listed in fourth followed by Democratic state Treasurer John Chiang, who spoke earlier this month with area business leaders in Indio.

A third of the likely voters surveyed were still undecided.

An attorney and certified public accountant, Cox has put up $1 million of his own money towards the “Neighborhood Legislature” ballot proposal and $3 million towards his gubernatorial campaign. By June 30, he’d raised an additional approximately $200,000 from about 300 individuals.

 

 

Paid for by John Cox for Governor 2018