Consumer Group Calls for Full Disclosure of Pledged and Installment Contributions
Santa Monica, CA — The nonprofit, nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is calling on the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to reject a proposed regulation at today’s meeting that would allow politicians to report only the paid portion of a contribution made by monthly credit card deduction or other installment payment. FTCR said that allowing politicians and special interests to hide the full amount of pledged contributions runs counter to the need for complete and timely disclosure of political financing.
During the frenzied end to this year’s legislative session politicians held approximately 100 fundraisers around the Capitol, even as heavily lobbied bills were being debated inside the Capitol. However, because many special interests and lobbyists pledged money to politicians without immediately paying them, citizens were not able to assess whether special interests were seeking and gaining undue influence over officials during the crucial final days of the legislative session.
Criticizing the FPPC‘s planned regulations, FTCR said: “These proposed regulations, in the name of clarifying existing rules, ensure that we will know less about the money flowing from lobbyists and special interests to politicians than ought to be available… Under your proposed rule a politician may connive contribution installment cycles that make high-paying special interest donors look like mom and pop political donors. It would be harder to distinguish the big money from the little money.”
The group suggested, instead, that the FPPC institute new rules requiring all pledged contributions be disclosed as a new item in campaign filings akin to “Accrued Expenses.” If a politician receives a pledged contribution or a contribution of, for example, $1,200 to be paid by credit card in monthly $100 installments, the total pledge would be reported in the “Pledged Contributions” schedule of campaign finance reports. As cash is received by the campaign the pledge would be moved to the “Contributions Received” schedule.
The hearing is being held in Sacramento this morning and the proposed rule is Item #17 on the Agenda. FTCR’s letter to the Commission can be downloaded from: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/FPPC10-24.pdf.
FTCR is supporting the campaign finance overhaul measure, Proposition 89 on the November ballot, which will crack down on special interest influence, ban lobbyists from contributing to politicians and give elected officials and candidates the option to accepting public funding for their campaigns if they agree not raise money from private interests. The opposition to Prop 89 often argues that strong disclosure rules are all Californians need to ensure clean and fair elections. However, it appears that none of the opponents to Prop 89 have expressed any concern over the FPPC‘s effort to weaken disclosure rules, according to FTCR.
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