LOCALPolitiCal

Campaign money disclosure bill clears the Assembly

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticeElectionsPoliticsHuman InterestRichard S. GordonLou Correa

SACRAMENTO-The Assembly approved a measure Thursday that would ramp up disclosure requirements for nonprofit groups and other organizations that spend money in California campaigns, a response to a infamous multimillion-dollar anonymous donation in 2012.

The measure, by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) would establish thresholds under which organizations would have to disclose their donors, such as when an organization receives $1,000 or more from donors for the purpose of making expenditures or contributions.

The bill would also require the Fair Political Practice Commission to post on their website lists of the top contributors to committees that raise $1 million or more to weigh in on ballot measures.

The proposal is part of a slate of campaign finance bills that were introduced after an $11-million donation by an Arizona nonprofit group made headlines in 2012. The money was sent to a California committee working  to combat Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposal and support an initiative that would weaken labor unions' political power.

An FPPC investigation found that by the use of nonprofit groups as a conduit illegally obscured the origin of the donation.

"The true, original source of this campaign money was never officially disclosed to the public," said Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park), who carried the bill on the Assembly floor.

Correa's measure "will ensure that voters get this information in a timely manner, no many hands the money passes through," Gordon said.

Republicans opposed the measure, arguing the disclosure requirements could infringe on donors' privacy.

"You have a right to participate in this democracy. You have a right to do it anonymously," said Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner (R-Irvine). 

"We don't want to chill 1st Amendment rights," he added.

Democrats flexed their supermajority muscle to pass the bill, SB 27, which required a two-thirds margin, 54 votes, to pass. All 55 Democrats voted aye.

The measure now returns to the Senate for final passage.

A separate campaign finance bill passed the Senate on Thursday which would measure make it easier for the FPPC to conduct investigations before an election is held. The measure, AB 800 by Gordon, now heads back to the Assembly.

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melanie.mason@latimes.com

@melmason

 

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