California Senate approves blackout period for campaign fundraising

California Senate approves blackout period for campaign fundraising
State Sen Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), left, talks to Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), who on Monday dropped his opposition to a Padilla bill that puts a blackout period on campaign fundraising. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Seeking to counter bad publicity over a series of scandals, the state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would ban campaign fundraising during the 30 days before the budget is approved and the 30 days before the end of each year's session.

The bill had failed to win the required two-thirds vote last week, but Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) won some Republican votes Monday by promising to change the legislation as it is considered by the Assembly to apply to all state legislative candidates, not just incumbents, and to include firm dates for the blackout period.

"With today's vote, we are one step closer to improving the public's confidence in state government," Padilla said after the 32-1 vote. "A fundraising blackout will help reduce the unseemly overlap of public policy and campaign contributions. This is of particular concern toward the end of the legislative session as the fates of hundreds of bills are decided."

Republican Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego voted against SB 1101, saying he worried about lawmakers getting in trouble if they hold a fundraiser before the blackout period but the check does not arrive until during the period.

"I believe this bill is still uncooked," Anderson said.

The measure faces an uncertain fate in the Assembly. Unlike a resolution recently adopted that applies the blackout period only to the Senate, the legislation would also restrict fundraising by members of the Assembly.

But Padilla said the overlapping of fundraising and votes on legislation "erodes the public's faith in legislators' ability to keep the two separate."