California Senate seeks to shed more light on campaign cash

Lyn Levine, 80, leaves her polling place at Encino Self Storage on Ventura Boulevard after voting in the March election. Bills passed by the Senate would require greater disclosure of campaign finances in California's elections.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A package of three bills aimed at requiring greater disclosure of political campaign finances in California has been approved by the state Senate.

One of the measures passed Wednesday would give the state Fair Political Practices Commission the authority to perform additional audits of campaign funds and would increase fines for violations of disclosure laws. SB 2 also would require television and radio commercials approved by candidates to include a disclosure of that approval.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said his bill “aims to increase transparency and give more tools to enforcement agencies by closing gaps and loopholes.”


Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) is the author of SB 3, which would require a feasibility study on the modernization and replacement of Cal-Access, the state’s electronic system for publicly disclosing the names of donors financing campaigns and lobbying activities. The system has crashed several times and is not easy to use, Yee told his colleagues.

California Common Caused backed SB 2 and SB 3, and Phillip Ung, a spokesman for the group, said the legislation was necessary for the “the fight against dark money.”

The Senate also approved a measure by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) that would require the disclosure of payments made by donors who have reason to know they will be used to support or oppose a state ballot measure or candidate.

Campaign committees that raise $1 million or more would have to provide a list of the top 10 contributors to be posted on the FPPC’s website, under SB 27.

All three bills now go to the Assembly for consideration.


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