Gov. Brown is taking hits for carrying on fundraising late in the campaign, and even after the election, despite the fact that he won easily and can’t run for re-election in 2018.

The LA Times’ George Skelton laid it on the governor pretty thick, writing that the fundraising carried “the kind of smell that turns off the public from politics and exacerbates the ridiculously low voter participation in elections.”

That’s a lot to lay on Brown’s fundraising, particularly when so few Californians know about the fundraising and when the state offers so many other good reasons not to pay attention to politics.

Gov. Brown, in response, has said that the money he’s stockpiled – more than $20 million – will prevent him from being such a lame duck. He’s correct about that. But I’d go a step further. Brown isn’t merely justified politically in raising money. I’d argue that his continued fundraising is imperative; if he weren’t raising this money, he wouldn’t be doing his job.

Let’s remember that this is California, where virtually all decisions of note get made at the ballot. That’s not the fault of politicians – it’s the fault of an over-long constitution that includes so many things that making any significant changes often requires going to the people. Our inflexible initiative process, by making it so easy to lock in laws, also ends up requiring use of the ballot.

So if Brown is to govern the state for four years, it’s almost certain he’ll have to spend political money at the ballot. Perhaps for ballot measures that change things. Perhaps to stop ballot measures that threaten his agenda. Or perhaps simply to scare off – and get in the conversation – with other interests and rich people who might use the ballot.

My goo-goo friends who are criticizing his fundraising as unseemly are being unfair. A governor, whether Brown or anyone else, can’t really govern fully without a big pot of money on hand for ballot measures. And that goes for more than just governors. Legislative leaders should be fundraising like this at all times.

Yes, of course, governors and legislative leaders can always tap a billionaire or an Indian tribe for big dollars in a pinch, but it strikes me that such emergency fundraising is more compromising than building up a steady war chest. And there is probably no better time for that kind of fundraising for a politician than a time like now for Brown, when he is politically strong and doesn’t need much of everything.

And yes, it would be better if California didn’t work like this. But the answer is not to offer dim criticisms of Brown’s fundraising or to pursue campaign finance reform. The solution involves major governance changes – a new constitution, a redesign of the initiative process, and the repeal of all the constitutional rules and initiative laws that require politicians to do so much work at the ballot.

Until that day comes, let Jerry raise as much money as he can.