Prof. Levinson quoted in The Wall Street Journal on suspensions in the CA Senate
Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson was quoted by The Wall Street Journal in a story on recent suspensions of three Democratic legislators which has cost the party its supermajority in the California Senate.
Members of both parties agree the scandals have left a stain on the capitol. The charges faced by Mr. Yee in particular may be damaging, said Jessica A. Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who focuses on the intersection of law and government.
"It is very troubling; this is the type of scandal that makes it look like all politicians are crooked," Prof. Levinson said of the allegations. "If you are trying to get people to engage in the political process, it is very difficult to do that now."
Levinson was also quoted by the Los Angeles Times on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, of which she holds the position of vice president. The Commission is calling for an increase in public funding available to city office candidates as a way to reduce corruption.
"You want to allow people to talk to constituents, not just donors, and I think that increasing the match will reduce the amount of time you have to spend fundraising," said Jessica Levinson, vice president of the commission and a professor at Loyola Law School.
Publicly financed programs are designed to reduce corruption, she said, and as more office-seekers agree to abide by campaign spending limits to receive the money, the degree to which "money controls the game" should decrease.
She also published an op-ed in The Sacramento Bee on corruption in the state Capitol, in regards to the suspension of state Senator Leland Yee.
Yee has been accused of trading campaign donations for government contracts, honorary proclamations and of course weaponry, among other things. Essentially prosecutors will need to demonstrate that Yee intended to carry out a promise (a quid) for a campaign donation (a quo).
A number of people have asked me whether this affair indicates that we need to implement political reform in California. I believe the answer is “no,” with a caveat.