Initiative proposed to shed light on dark money from nonprofits

SACRAMENTO -- Two months after the state levied record penalties in a “dark money” case, an initiative has been proposed to shed light on donors to nonprofit groups that try to influence California elections and legislation.

The “Nonprofit Donor Full Disclosure Act of 2014" was submitted this week to the state attorney general’s office for a title and summary to be drafted before petitions can be circulated.

“The intent of the Act is to strengthen the campaign finance disclosure laws,” according to its preamble.

The measure was submitted by Democratic and initiative attorney Lance Olson in response to the October decision by the state Fair Political Practices Commission to levy $16 million in penalties against an Arizona nonprofit group and three others for improperly reporting where their money came from.

Under campaign finance laws, the state cannot force the groups to release the names of those who originally donated the money, which then passed from one nonprofit to another before millions of dollars were contributed to groups involved in campaigns for and against 2012 ballot initiatives.

The initiative submitted by Olson includes a requirement to disclose the identity of any donor of $50,000 or more to a nonprofit for a communication that identifies a candidate for elective state office but does not expressly advocate for election or defeat of the candidate.

The initiative would also require “persons  engaged  in  issue  advocacy and lobbying to disclose the top funding  sources to the [non-profit] organization responsible  for  the  communication  or communications sent to the public related to pending legislation and administrative action, and issue advocacy."


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