John Cox is behind a unique initiative to require legislators to wear patches on their clothes that identify their biggest donors when they vote or give testimony in a committee or vote on the floor. No, he says this is not another wacky idea that comes out of California but a serious proposal to open up citizens’ eyes to money influencing politicians.

Yet, he doesn’t think the California media is taking his measure seriously.

Cox sent an email to supporters last week asking them to contact members of the media and ask for more coverage of the California is Not for Sale initiative.

Cox says he is receiving decent coverage for his effort from some national news outlets and radio programs. “John and Ken (Los Angeles KFI radio) had me on for two segments; they love this idea.  Politico covered it as did Washington Times and US News.”  It’s California mainstream papers that are lagging, he complains.  

Cox suspects the lack of traction with the media on the measure rests with legislators who clearly don’t like the idea.

“My suspicion is that current legislators aren’t wild about this,” Cox said.

No doubt. You can almost hear legislators borrowing the classic line from the Humphrey Bogart film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, often paraphrased as: “Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

If legislators don’t want to talk about the measure with the media, the reporters may have little to write about, Cox said. And the legislature is not alone in turning against the initiative, he insists. “Neither the unions or business lobbies are going to appreciate this.”

Aside from requiring the legislators to wear the name of their donors at certain times when performing official duties, the initiative also requires campaign committees to list the top 10 donors in any advertising campaigns.

To make sure voters know about his initiative, Cox has organized protests around the state featuring life-sized cutouts of members of the legislature, each carrying logos of top donors. He also plans to run television ads to promote the initiative during the qualifying stage.

Cox said the signature gathering is going well. He said petition carriers “are reporting it to be the most popular initiative they have ever circulated.  They are telling us they are using ours to attract signers for their other initiatives they are carrying.  Our deadline is end of April and our projection now is that we could be a month earlier with that.”

The measure may also be helped by the simple title affixed by the Attorney General: CAMPAIGN FINANCE. DONOR DISCLOSURE.

If the measure makes the ballot, legal action from the legislature likely would follow.