Legislature shines light on dark money
February 21, 2014
• California closer to fuller disclosure of political donors
• “Voters deserve to know who's trying to influence their votes”
Legislation requiring non-profits to reveal their secret donors when they spend $50,000 on California elections has been approved by the state Assembly floor on a vote of 58-18.
The approval of SB 27 comes in the same month that the Fair Political Practices Commission imposed a record $1 million fine on out-of-state non-profit organizations that were able to funnel $11 million into California races in the final days of the 2012 election without revealing their donors.
SB 27 is expected to prevent such secretive spending in future races beginning with this November's election.
The bill, approved by the Senate, now returns to the Senate for its agreement to Assembly changes.
"It should not require last-minute Supreme Court rulings or year-long FPPC investigations for voters to learn the names of major funders of California campaigns," says Trent Lange, president of the California Clean Money Campaign. "Voters deserve to know who's trying to influence their votes."
SB 27, authored by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, and sponsored by the Fair Political Practices Commission, addresses the problem by requiring non-profits that spend $50,000 or more in California races to become a formal campaign committee and report the contributors that make up their campaign expenditures. Those contributions then would be available for the public to see on the Secretary of State website.
Nearly 20,000 Californians signed petitions urging the Assembly to pass SB 27. It has support not only from good government groups in California like the California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters of California, but also national organizations like Courage Campaign, Maplight, the Money Out Voters In Coalition, Progressives United, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and the Sunlight Foundation.