States take tougher line on secret political money than feds
California isn't the only place where there's been a crackdown on anonymous political donations. Authorities in Idaho and Montana, among others, have also taken a harder look at nonprofits that have flooded the country with campaign money that has been difficult or impossible to trace.
The tougher response from various states has sharply contrasted with federal authorities, who have earned a reputation for gridlock or inaction.
The full story, written with Matea Gold in Washington, ran in Monday's Los Angeles Times.
California's campaign finance watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, was able to force an Arizona nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Leadership, to disclose from where it received the $11 million it pumped into two ballot measure campaigns in October.
However, the nonprofit said only that the money came from other nonprofits, and the commission has continued to investigate.
"If you look at the federal issue, you would be inclined to throw up your hands," said Derek Cressman, vice president for state operations at Common Cause, which advocates for more transparency. "The progress that some states are making proves that these disclosure issues are problems we can solve."
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, talks with Gary Winuck, the commission's chief of enforcement, after a Superior Court hearing in Sacramento in October. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press