Republican real estate mogul John H. Cox is sponsoring a ballot initiative that would require California politicians to wear the logos of the top 10 campaign donors.
The initiative is called California is Not for Sale. Cox has invested $1 million in hiring canvassers to recruit the 365,880 valid signatures necessary for Californians to be able to vote on the measure in November 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The initiative was advertised on the free speech zone of the California State Capitol, where the organization planted an army of cardboard cutouts in the likeness of the 120 California Legislature members, each tagged with corporate sponsorship stickers, The Huffington Post reports.
Democratic California State Sen. Robert Hertzberg of the 18th District thought the display was hilarious, posing with a cardboard cutout for onlookers. But Cox is serious about the initiative.
“We have a system under which people who want something from government fund the campaigns of the people who make those decisions,” Cox told U.S. News & World Report. “In any other solar system that would be considered corrupt.”
The businessman has taken to Reddit to host “Ask Me Anything” forums to help broaden awareness for the initiative, taking questions from both the skeptical and the enthusiastic.
“They aren't going to change this structure -- they like it,” Cox wrote about California politicians. “They make money from it. They have power. There is a whole lobbying/fundraising/consulting industry built up around the current legalized bribery business. Meanwhile, real people get shoved under the bus.”
While Cox’s initiative has a shot at the ballot, the legality of requiring lawmakers to advertise their sponsors as if they were NASCAR racers has been questioned.
“Politicians do not shed their free speech rights when they take office,” College of William and Mary law professor Timothy Zick told U.S. News & World Report. “Absent compelling justification, government cannot compel speakers to convey particular viewpoints or subject matters against their will … it essentially forces officeholders to act as state billboards.”
Cox does not seem too concerned with whether or not his initiative can actually become a permanent requirement. The businessman told Reddit users that California is Not for Sale is a stepping stone in getting his other initiative, the Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act, which would shrink electoral districts down drastically.
“It makes all campaigns so tiny they have to be done by candidates going door to door,” Cox wrote. “Money loses its power in that kind of structure.”
Cox has called upon presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to endorse his California is Not for Sale, U.S. News & World Report reports.