Gov. Brown signs bill to shed light on political ‘dark money’

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill aimed at shedding light on “dark money” in politics, targeting a practice in which nonprofit organizations and other groups put millions of dollars into state campaigns without disclosing the original source of the cash.

The measure was introduced after a web of conservative groups from Arizona poured $15 million into California in 2012 to fight Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike, and support an ultimately unsuccessful move to curb unions’ political power.

“Our democracy is tarnished when millions of dollars is funneled through a web of shadowy, out-of-state organizations to hide the identities of campaign contributors,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown. “This bill helps close this dark money loophole by ensuring Californians know who is giving and where the money trail starts.”

The bill by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) requires large donations from nonprofits and other so-called multi-purpose organizations (MPOs) to be disclosed and the state Fair Political Practices Commission to post the names of the top 10 contributors on its website.

“This bill goes to the heart of disclosing dark money and requiring that the true source of money spent in California elections be reported” said Erin V. Peth, executive director of the FPPC. “SB 27 gives the FPPC the ability to shed more light on the extensive networks of nonprofits and MPOs masking their donations.”


The FPPC sponsored the legislation, providing technical support in drafting the bill.

Correa’s measure requires disclosure of donors if a nonprofit or group spends at least $50,000 on politics in one year or more than $100,000 over four consecutive years. Groups that raise at least $1 million must disclose the top 10 donors who gave $10,000 or more.