SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, Calif. State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), member of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, announced the introduction of a package of bills to strengthen California’s Political Reform Act. “Today, I announce four proposals that would significantly strengthen California’s Political Reform Act,” said Senator Padilla.
“A lack of timely disclosure of campaign contributions keeps the public from knowing who has made a contribution and who has received one as it happens. This is of particular concern toward the end of the legislative session as the fate of hundreds of bills is decided while fundraisers abound. Despite assurances, this overlap of critical votes and fundraising erodes the public’s faith in legislators’ ability to keep the two separate. Current law governing disclosure keeps the public and the press in the dark much of the year. Denying the public and the press timely disclosure fuels distrust. While our current system does provide full disclosure, it lacks timely full disclosure,” Padilla said. “I want to change that,” Padilla added.
“The Political Reform Act was approved by California voters in 1974. To amend it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature and Governor Brown’s signature. Clearly, I cannot do this alone. I will need the support of my colleagues and the governor. I believe that the reforms I am proposing will provide a clearer view of the source and use of campaign money, and reduce the likelihood of an unseemly overlap of public policy and campaign contributions,” Senator Padilla said.
Specifically, Senator Padilla’s political reform package includes the following four bills:
Legislative Blackout Period (SB 1101)
Twenty-nine states place restrictions on giving and receiving campaign contributions during the legislative session. In some states, the ban applies only to contributions by lobbyists, principals and/or political committees; other states have a general ban on contributions.
This bill would create a fundraising blackout period in California. It would prohibit solicitation or acceptance of campaign contributions by a member of the legislature during the 100 days immediately preceding the last day of the legislative session, the last day of session, and seven days immediately following the last day of the legislative session. The blackout period would be in place during critical budget votes and at the end of legislative session when large volumes of bills including last minute “gut and amend” measures are up for votes.
Timely Disclosure of Contributions (SB 1102)
Most states have moved forward with online disclosure of campaign contributions.
Current California law only requires bi-annual reporting in non-election years. Timely disclosure is limited to very large contributions and contributions made as Election Day approaches. For example, contributions of $5000 and above must be reported electronically within 10 days and contributions of $1000 and above must be reported within 24 hours within 90 days of an election.
This bill would require contributions of $100 or more to be electronically reported within 24 hours during the 90 days preceding an election and within 5 business days the rest of the year not covered by the blackout period. The bill would apply to campaigns for elective state offices including the legislature, constitutional offices and the state board of equalization. It would also apply to independent expenditure committees supporting or opposing these offices and statewide ballot measure committees.
One Office at a Time (SB 1103)
Currently, it is perfectly legal to declare an intention to run for more than one office at a time. By simply expressing the intention to run for multiple offices an official may open multiple campaign committees. These multiple campaign committees can potentially be used to cumulatively raise far in excess of the established campaign contribution limits.
This bill would prohibit an officeholder or candidate from declaring their candidacy and raising money for more than one state elected office at a time.
Disclosure of Campaign Communications (SB 1104)
Four cities in California including Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Palmdale and Berkeley require public disclosure of campaign communications. The states of Montana, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma also require public disclosure of campaign communications.
This bill would require campaigns for elective state offices including the legislature, constitutional offices, the state board of equalization as well as independent expenditure campaign committees supporting or opposing these offices and statewide ballot measure campaign committees to electronically file with the Secretary of State’s Office campaign-funded communications, as defined by the Political Reform Act, within 24 hours.
Senator Alex Padilla, 40, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT and is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles. Info: http://sd20.senate.ca.gov/ .