Following the controversy in California's initiative
campaigns over an $11 million donation from a secretive,
out-of-state group, Democratic lawmakers have begun
introducing legislation to increase disclosure requirements
and the power of the Fair Political Practices Commission to
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, announced
legislation this afternoon that would require donors of
$50,000 or more to a non-profit group to be identified if
the contribution is made within six months of an election
and if the non-profit makes a large donation to a campaign
within that same period.
"This is the kind of information that voters and the public
need and deserve to have before they cast their votes, not
find out after," Dickinson said.
Assembly Bill 45 would also require the Secretary of State
to make campaign and lobbying filings available to the FPPC
and would authorize the FPPC to seek court injunctions
related to disclosure.
Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the FPPC, said the bill would
provide the FPPC the "clear ability" to seek those
injunctions. When the FPPC sued the Arizona group Americans
for Responsible Leadership over its $11 million donation
earlier this year, Ravel said, "we were acting somewhat
creatively in interpreting our statutes" to permit such a
Facing a California Supreme Court order, Americans for
Responsible Leadership disclosed the source of its
contributions -- two other out-of-state groups whose
backers remain unknown.
Ravel said her office is still investigating the donation,
which was made to a committee opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's
ballot measure to raise taxes and supporting a separate
campaign finance measure.
Earlier today, state Sens. Mark Leno and Jerry Hill
announced that they have introduced legislation that would
require broader disclosure of a campaign's major funding
sources in political ads.
"We saw evidence in the most recent election cycle of
unnamed organizations throwing around large sums of money
in order to confuse California voters," Leno, D-San
Francisco, said in a prepared statement. "The only way to
stop this covert financing of campaigns is to require the
simple and clear disclosure of the top three funders of
political ads so voters can make well-informed decisions at
the ballot box."
Ravel has said she plans to push next year for changes to
the Political Reform Act, and she appeared with Dickinson
at his news conference at a Sacramento school. Ravel said
she has yet to take a position, however, on Dickinson's
bill or on Senate Bill 52, the legislation Leno and Hill
introduced. She said the FPPC intends to evaluate a variety
Legislation to change the Political Reform Act would
require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature.
Sabrina Lockhart, spokeswoman for Assembly Republican
leader Connie Conway, said in an email that her office
hasn't seen the proposed legislation.
"In general," she said, "Republicans would be willing to
look at ways to increase transparency in the campaign
contribution process while balancing freedom of speech