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Suggestions that California adopt public campaign financing in response to a spate of Capitol corruption scandals are "the last refuge" of politicians who want to keep a corrupt status quo, secretary of state candidate Dan Schnur said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Sacramento, Schnur, a former Republican who has no party preference, said his proposed ban on political fundraising while the Legislature is in session is the best way to clean up a "Capitol culture of corruption."

"I don't care if you're the most meticulous record-keeper in the world. If you receive a really large campaign contribution six months before a key vote, it simply cannot have the same visceral emotional impact as if you receive that same check the night before a key vote or the morning of," said Schnur, who said he would be the state's "reformer in chief" if elected.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, floated the idea of public campaign financing during his floor speech Friday on a resolution to suspend Democratic senators Ron Calderon, Rod Wright and Leland Yee — one of Schnur's secretary of state rivals until shortly after his arrest on corruption and gun-running charges last week.

Schnur acknowledged that some people sincerely support public campaign financing. But Schnur said public financing of California campaigns would never happen. Voters, he added, would not want to divert money from police, libraries and other governmental services, he said.

"Public financing? That's the last refuge...of a legislator that just doesn't want to see any change happen at all," Schnur said.

Speaking to reporters later, Steinberg and state Sen. Kevin Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, accused Schnur of fundraising hypocrisy. Schnur's campaign has raised more than $313,000, with the average check exceeding $1,500.

"If you live in glass houses, you should be careful not to throw stones," de León said.

Other candidates for secretary of state are Democrats, state Sen. Alex Padilla, Derek Cressman, and Jeffrey H. Drobman; Republicans Pete Peterson and Roy Allmond; and David Curtis, a member of the Green Party.

Editor's note: This post was updated April 1 at 5:43 p.m. to include response from Steinberg and de León.

Secretary of state candidate Dan Schnur, who has no party preference, speaks to reporters in Sacramento on Tuesday. The Sacramento Bee/Jim Miller


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