Is your city using taxpayer dollars to campaign for higher taxes?

Will Swaim


Will Swaim
March 25, 2018

Is your city using taxpayer dollars to campaign for higher taxes?



For two years beginning in 2014, Stanton, California, residents were pounded by half a million dollars in advertising calling for a hike in the city’s sales tax. They surrendered to the wall-to-wall messaging, voting once for the tax hike and then against a repeal effort.

In a painful irony, the tsunami of advertising was paid for by city taxpayers themselves.

Translation: city officials used taxpayer money to persuade taxpayers to give city officials more money.

Shortly after the Stanton campaign, California Policy Center created a model resolution prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars in political campaigns. Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill worked with his council colleagues to turn that resolution into a city ordinance – the first of its kind in California. O’Neill published a commentary on that ordinance in the Orange County Register.

Now there’s this by Dan Walters, the dean of California reporters (alongside CPC’s own Steve Greenhut). Walters calls the practice of government’s running pro-tax campaigns “very clever, even propagandistic, packaging . . . by political consultants who boast of their ability to overcome resistance to such measures.”

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