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Democrats target secret political money with new legislation

December 20, 2012 |  3:45 pm

Ann Ravel court

California Democrats will be pushing new legislation in hopes of preventing anonymous political donations like the $11 million contribution that stirred controversy this year. 

On Thursday, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) announced a bill (AB45) to prevent what he called "money bombs" in the final days before a vote. If a nonprofit is participating in a campaign, it would need to disclose any donors providing at least $50,000 within six months of an election. 

"This is the kind of information voters and the public need to have before they cast their votes," said Dickinson. He was joined by Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's campaign finance watchdog. 

"It is important that we get stronger legislation in California that can be a model nationwide," Ravel said. 

A day earlier, Sens. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) detailed legislation (SB3) that would require nonprofits giving at least $100,000 to a California campaign to reveal all the donors behind the contribution. 

That would stiffen state's current rules, which only requires nonprofits to identify donors who gave money specifically for political purposes in California. 

“Laundering money through nonprofits in an attempt to avoid transparency is fundamentally undemocratic,” Yee said in a statement. 

The controversy over anonymous political donations was triggered this year when an Arizona nonprofit gave $11 million to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike proposal and support another ballot measure to curb unions' political fundraising.

The nonprofit, under pressure from California courts and the Fair Political Practices Commission, revealed it got the money from two other nonprofits. That hasn't satisfied state authorities, who have continued to probe the donation to see if they can determine its original source. 


Secret donation hindered campaigns, GOP advisors say

Disclosure by Arizona nonprofit shows ties to Koch brothers

States take tougher line on secret political money than feds

-- 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 on Wednesday. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press