Three Bills Would Weaken Reform
Santa Monica, CA — Three bills that would weaken good government laws suggest that California lawmakers have begun a sustained, but stealthy, attack on popular political and campaign reforms, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). Each bill has received unanimous, or near-unanimous, support from legislators.
The three bills attacking campaign reforms would: weaken disclosure of money in politics by increasing the amount that large donors can give before they must report their contributions; decrease disclosure and transparency of contributions solicited by a candidate for something other than his campaign; and, open a loophole in local campaign laws to allow special interests to skirt contribution limits by giving through political parties.
"Politicians are whittling away at the laws meant to deny special interests a stranglehold on California politics. But the details of campaign laws are as important as their core — shave off the edges and the whole campaign finance structure crumbles," said Carmen Balber with FTCR.
The bills include:
SB 298 (Cogdill, R-Fresno): Increases the contribution amount that triggers reporting requirements for large campaign donors. The change would limit the information available to voters, making elections, and election funding, more opaque. SB 298’s final legislative hurdle is the Assembly floor.
SB 381 (Calderon, D-Montebello): Weakens disclosure and transparency of contributions made, typically, to a non-profit organization at a candidate’s request,. These "behest of" contributions represent millions of dollars in donations. The full Assembly is also the final hurdle before SB 381 reaches Governor Schwarzenegger.
AB 1430 (Garrick, R-Carlsbad): Takes away local governments’ ability to limit contributions to political parties or other organizations. These groups can be used to funnel contributions to candidates that are above existing contribution limits. Despite strong opposition from good government groups and local ethics boards, AB 1430 has reached the full Senate with just one No vote.
"The quiet but nearly unanimous support for these bills in Sacramento reveals politicians’ desire to finish the job they started when they used Prop 34 to overturn stronger campaign contribution limits already approved by the voters," said Balber.
Read FTCR’s letters of opposition to SB 298, SB 381, and AB 1430.