UMC Links

Expert at U to Provide Insight Into “California Circus”

September 18, 2003 — There are 135 candidates, including Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, plus Gov. Gray Davis, the subject of the recall. Who will win? The media has had a heyday asking this question while following the campaigns of each during the California gubernatorial recall election. This week’s decision by the Appeals Court panel to postpone the elections-and the full Appeals Court panel likely to review this decision-adds even more confusion to the much-publicized race.

To provide political perspective on the recall vote, Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, will present “The California Circus: Or, Politics as It was Meant to Be,” on Thursday, Sept. 25, from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m., in the University of Utah Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium.

Hosted by the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, Department of Political Science and the Rocco C. and Marion S. Siciliano Forum, the lecture is free and open to the public.

“The timing of Bob Stern’s lecture couldn’t be better,” notes Steven Ott, dean of the University’s College of Social and Behavioral Science. “With so much national attention focused on the recall election-whether it’s held in October or March-there is plenty of interest in what Stern, an ethics and campaign finance guru, has to say.”

An analyst of California politics and a graduate of Stanford Law School, Stern says, “This election is the most exciting California contest in my memory, and I have been watching California elections for over 40 years. Voter turnout will be high (whenever the election is held), and media coverage is non-stop. Instead of covering car chases, the local television stations are ‘all recall, all the time.'”

Stern is regarded as an expert on the initiative and recall process, electronic filing of campaign finance statements and state and local ethics. In 1981 he was elected chairman of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), an international organization of state, federal and Canadian agencies that regulates campaign financing, ethics and lobbying laws. In 1988 he received COGEL’s Annual Award for his work in “promoting the highest standard of ethical conduct among government officials.”

Stern was principal co-author of the Political Reform Act of 1974 (Proposition 9), which was approved by more than 70 percent of California’s voters in June 1974. Prior to his current position, he was general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission for nine years. He is co-author of the book Democracy by Initiative, Shaping California’s Fourth Branch of Government. He has taught an undergraduate course on elections at UCLA and a seminar on scandal in politics and government at UCLA Law School.

The Center for Governmental Studies, a non-partisan research organization located in Los Angeles, studies politics and the media. Stern has been with the Center since 1983. Stern is available for advance phone interviews and will be available for media interviews between 9:15 and 10:15 a.m., in the Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Fine Art & Architecture Classroom (on the second floor of the Marriott Library), Thursday, Sept. 25, prior to the University lecture.