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The "Perfect Storm" of Campaign Finance

The New York Times reports,

Just three years after Californians voted to impose controls on campaign financing, the unexpected recall election is turning into a spending frenzy without limits.

Six-figure contributions from labor unions are pouring into Gov. Gray Davis's anti-recall committee. Arnold Schwarzenegger jump-started his campaign with a $2 million donation of his own. Peter V. Ueberroth wrote his campaign a check for $1 million and expects to add $2 million more.

And the state's Indian tribes, flush with cash from casino operations, say they are planning to spend as much as $10 million on the recall campaign, mainly to benefit Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante, a Democrat, who has long supported their interests.

When it comes to the recall, experts say, California's complex campaign financing controls, a clutter of legislation, voter initiatives and court opinions, appear to be more loophole than law.

Proposition 34, a campaign financing initiative passed by the voters in 2000, limits fund-raising and spending by candidates for governor. But the individual contribution limit is so high $21,200, more than 10 times the limit for a presidential contest as to be almost meaningless, advocates of stricter campaign finance laws here argue.