Activists for tougher campaign finance laws arrested at Capitol

Protesting big money
Activists with 99Rise show support for a bill calling for a constitutional amendment limiting corporate campaign funding during the Assembly session Monday.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A group of activists pressing for tougher campaign finance rules has stirred things up at the Capitol, resulting in more than 40 arrests of its members and sparking debate about democracy and government.

A dozen activists from the group 99Rise walked nearly 500 miles from Los Angeles to the Capitol, and with numbers swelling, members have been occupying the rotunda daily for 11 days. That has resulted in arrests when activists refuse to leave at the end of the day, said Curt Ries, a spokesman for the group.

“We’re doing this to get big money out of politics,” Ries said. “We don’t live in a true democracy anymore.”

The group was demanding approval of pending legislation including a bill, expected to get a final vote Thursday, that would call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention to pass an amendment overruling the Citizens United decision, which lifted contribution limits for corporations.


On Wednesday, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) was among the lawmakers to meet with the group and voice support for the legislation they’re seeking.

Later, Steinberg convened a meeting of the Senate Rules Committee to hear concerns from Republican lawmakers that a film crew documenting 99Rise’s efforts has been allowed on the Senate floor.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar objected to providing a senate floor pass to a film crew documenting the protest group.

“We’re just going to give them the keys to the kingdom for the day and not worry about security?” Huff said. “It seems like Senator Steinberg is making up rules on the fly here in his last month as pro tem.” No one given a pass or who is a member of a film crew has been arrested.


Steinberg said he supports wide access, adding “Whatever we do ... it should not be content based.”