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California lawmakers quietly refuse to stop unlimited cash flowing from political parties to their campaigns

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

An ambitious effort to close a widely used loophole that allows large donations from political parties to be funneled into California races was rejected on Friday.

The bill by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) would have made political party money donated to statewide and legislative candidates subject to the same contribution limits as individuals. Under the language of a voter-approved initiative, Proposition 34, money from political parties is exempt from those existing limits.

“It’s a money-laundering scheme that has completely duped voters,” Levine said last fall when he first promised to introduce the bill.

The proposal was quietly killed, without a formal vote, by the Assembly Appropriations Committee during its biannual session to act on bills placed on the so-called suspense file due to their estimated costs. Committee staff estimated that Levine’s AB 1234 would have six-figure costs both for enforcement and for placing the issue before voters in 2018.

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