Measure W

Oakland Campaign Finance Reform

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CITY OF OAKLAND—Would amend the Oakland Municipal Code and City Charter to establish resident public financing for candidate election campaigns, increase transparency regarding independent spending in City elections, further restrict former city officials from acting as lobbyists, and provide additional resources to the Public Ethics Commission for implementation. Measure W requires a simple majority (50% + 1) to pass.

Fiscal Impact: Estimated the City would incur approximately $700,000 in one-time start-up costs, approximately $1,600,000 in annual operating costs, and $3,845,000 in additional budget appropriation every two years to the Democracy Dollar Fund (Fund) if the measure passes and the City Council adopts such an ordinance in the future.

Next Alameda County Measure: Measure X



Proponents of Measure W argue that Oaklanders deserve a local government that is transparent and accountable and that prioritizes the needs of Oakland residents, rather than wealthy special interests. They argue that Measure V increases transparency for money in politics, and campaign ads will be required to list their top three contributors so voters can see who's funding candidates and ballot measures, among other actions.

A YES vote on this measure means: The Limited Public Financing Act ordinance would be replaced with the Fair Elections Act ordinance and the Campaign Reform Act and Lobbyist Registration Act ordinances and Section 603 of the City Charter would be amended in the ways included in this measure. (Campaign Website)


Opponents of Measure W argue it would take more General Fund money than Oakland spends on police oversight, affordable housing, or youth sports, and give it to politicians. They argue that while getting money out of politics is a worthy goal, Measure W is biased toward incumbents, has no controls for fraud, and does nothing to limit the millions of dollars spent in recent elections by special interest Super PACs. 

A NO vote on this measure means: The Limited Public Financing Act ordinance would not be replaced with the Fair Elections Act ordinance and the amendments included in this measure would not be made.

In Depth

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission is responsible for oversight of various laws including the Campaign Reform Act, the Limited Public Finanqing Act, and the Lobbyist Registration Act. In 2014, Oakland voters approved a City Charter amendment that created a new section 603 to strengthen the Public Ethics Commission, which included provisions to set aside money for minimum staffing.

This measure would repeal the Limited Public Financing Act and replace it with the Fair Elections Act. The current public financing program is available only to candidates for City Council; and it caps public financing for an election at $500,000 and allocates the financing by reimbursing qualifying candidates. The new program would be available to candidates for City Council, Mayor, City Attorney, City Auditor, and School Board and would require that the City set aside a minimum of $4,000,000 for public financing, per election, unless the City faces extreme fiscal necessity. Residents of Oakland would receive "Democracy Dollars" vouchers and could assign the vouchers to qualified candidates of their choice. Candidates who receive vouchers would be able to redeem them from the City to receive public financing.

The measure would amend the Campaign Reform Act to, among other things, lower contribution limits for publicly financed candidates and heighten disclosure requirements for third-party campaign advertisements. Instead of requiring identification of the top two donors of $5,000 or more only on mass mailings and television advertisements, the measure would require identification of the top three donors on all third-party advertisements.

This measure would amend the City Charter to increase minimum staffing for the Public Ethics Commission. The measure also would extend the restriction on former City officials acting as local government lobbyists after leaving office from one year to two years. The Oakland City Council placed this measure on the ballot.

Source: City Attorney's Impartial Analysis of Measure W

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