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Lawmakers could face restrictions on soliciting money for nonprofits

Months after state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), shown in January, was indicted on bribery charges, the California Senate approved restrictions on elected officials soliciting funds for nonprofit groups.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Lawmakers early Saturday approved a measure that would prohibit elected officials from soliciting contributions for nonprofit groups controlled by the official or a family member and that would limit the personal use of campaign funds.

The bill by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) also prohibits gifts of campaign funds controlled by an official to a nonprofit run by the official or a family member.

“It’s just another way in which we can control the use of campaign funds, prevent their misuse, while also bringing transparency to nonprofits,” Hill said.

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The bill, which now goes to the governor for consideration, was introduced after Democratic state Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello) was indicted for taking bribes. An FBI affidavit in the case indicated that Calderon participated in a deal in which $25,000 from a group tied to the Latino Legislative Caucus was donated to a nonprofit run by his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.

The affidavit also alleged that an undercover FBI agent agreed to pay $25,000 to the same nonprofit, Californians for Diversity, at the senator’s request.

Hill’s legislation would also require nonprofits that spend more than $5,000 on travel for an elected official to disclose the original donors of the money. SB 831 would also bar elected officials from using campaign funds for personal vacations, country club dues, tuition, clothing and cars.


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