California needs to shine a light on lobbying

California needs to shine a light on lobbying

Say you're an executive of Big Widget Inc., a manufacturing company, and the California Legislature is considering a bill that would render the widgets you make obsolete.

You hire lobbyists to make the case to legislators that your widgets are crucial to the state's economy and ought to be protected. But you want to pull out all the stops because there are other well-funded interests on the other side of the proposal. So, you hire another firm to launch an online campaign called Californians For Widgets, pretending to be a coalition of regular citizens and academics worried about the loss of widget manufacturing in the state. You hire people to set up social media accounts to...