Lawmakers have sought to fortify campaign spending rules since out-of-state nonprofit groups poured
"Simply put, our law needs to catch up with the way" nonprofits have found to skirt reporting requirements, Assemblyman
Unlike donations to political action committees, contributions to nonprofit groups do not necessarily require disclosure. Advocates of tougher laws say the current system enables a shell game, with donors able to influence elections but cloak their identity.
Senate Bill 27, by Sen.
Under current law, nonprofits are compelled to detail their donors only if they have spent on a previous political contest. Critics describe a resulting loophole in which groups can set up a new nonprofit for a given election and be exempted from disclosure, since it is the organization's first effort.
Correa's bill would instead trigger disclosure from nonprofits that hit certain thresholds, such as spending at least
"The people have a right to know who's given to campaigns," said
In a show of their supermajority might, Assembly Democrats mustered 55 votes -- one more than the two-thirds required to pass the measure and send it back to the
"If you're going to give money to a nonprofit and you know it's going to be used for campaign purposes, just disclose it," Correa said after the vote. "It's a very simple concept, which is that people need to know who is supporting what causes or which candidates."
The measure drew opposition from Republicans, who argued that donors should be allowed to remain unidentified to protect themselves from retaliation. Assemblyman
"You have a right to participate in this democracy," Wagner said. "You have a right to do it anonymously."
As the Assembly was acting on Correa's bill, the
The bill also empowers the FPPC to begin audits and investigations or seek injunctions before an election occurs. Should Brown sign the bill, the FPPC would be able to exert its new authority during the current election season.
"Historically, the FPPC has been an impartial referee, making the call after the play or game,"
But the bill's author argued that, by allowing the FPPC to act more aggressively, the bill would make Californians better informed when they enter the voting booth.
"It allows for clearing up concerns about campaigns in real time," Gordon said. "I'd like to have those answers," he added, "before I vote."
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