Campaign finance watchdog may sue Arizona group


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California’s campaign finance watchdog plans to decide on Wednesday whether to sue a mysterious Arizona nonprofit that pumped $11 million into two California initiative campaigns last week.

The legal action could become a test of a new state regulation requiring nonprofits to disclose the identity of their donors if they know the money is going to be used in a California campaign.


The Fair Political Practices Commission has asked the nonprofit’s Virginia law firm for information on the $11 million transaction and gave the firm until 2 p.m. on Wednesday to respond.

‘At that point, based on what they tell us, we will make a decision about how to go forward,’ said Ann Ravel, the commission’s chairwoman.

The Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, donated the money to the Small Business Action Committee, which is fighting Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike plan and pushing a ballot measure to curb unions’ political influence.

Last week Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization seeking government transparency, filed a complaint against the Arizona group seeking to unmask the donors.

A spokeswoman for the Small Business Action Committee, Beth Miller, called the complaint ‘a politically motivated charge without one shred of evidence.’

In an interview, Ravel said the $11 million donation and the Arizona group’s short track record has raised red flags.


‘It seems to strain credulity that the donors would not know it’s going to be used for a campaign in California,’ Ravel said.


Anonymous political donation sets up legal battle

Jerry Brown to secret donors: ‘Take your mask off’

Arizona political group dumps $11 million into California races

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Photo: Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press