Campaign finance disclosure reforms: follow California’s model law

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I read last week that Secretary of State Ken "Birther" Bennett wants to revise Arizona's campaign finance disclosure laws, which are among the most lax in the nation. I fully support more transparency and real-time campaign finance disclosure requirements, with enforcement provisions that have real teeth.

Secretary Bennett does not describe what he actually has in mind in this report, but I have some suggestions for him later in this post. Arizona election official wants voters to know who funds campaigns:

The state's chief election officer wants tighter financial reporting laws so voters know who is really funding campaigns.

The comments from Secretary of State Ken
Bennett come on the heels of the disclosure that an Arizona-based group
gave $11 million to affect two California ballot measures.

* * *

Ann Ravel, head of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, called it a case of "money laundering.''

What makes the incident an Arizona issue is that
Americans for Responsible Leadership also put about $1.5 million into
the campaigns to defeat the permanent sales tax hike in Proposition 204
as well as the open primary proposal on the ballot as Proposition 121.
But nothing in existing Arizona law requires the group to reveal the
source of all that cash and whether, like the money spent on the
California measures, it came from out-of-state sources
.

* * *

Bennett said that his experience with Arizona elections in this and
prior years convinces him more transparency in funding sources is
needed.

He said existing state laws are focused largely on
contribution limits for candidate races. Bennett said that may not be
the best thing for voter education.

"We need to think more about how to more immediately
provide disclosure as to who's giving and not focus so much on how much
they gave
,'' Bennett told Capitol Media Services.

"As we've found out, if you give to one group and
they give to another group, those monies can kind of be accumulated,''
he said. "And it's not until well after the election that you know who
was really behind the first giving.''

In fact, under Arizona law, there would be no formal
reporting even after the election
. And on ballot measures, unlike
candidate campaigns, there is no limit on how much any individual,
business or organization can give.

* * *

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who chairs the House Judiciary
Committee, said he believes better financial disclosure is needed all
across the board
.

"I'm aware of what happened,'' he said of the
donations by Americans for Responsible Leadership. Farnsworth said he
believes voters are entitled to know the ultimate sources of any money
designed to influence elections.

But the record shows that getting lawmakers to expand financial disclosure requirements could prove difficult.

Last session, Bennett teamed with Farnsworth on
legislation aimed at finding out who is behind corporations formed
solely to influence elections.

* * *

The only restriction is that these expenses must be made independent of the candidate's campaign committee.

In 2011 legislators approved a measure mandating disclosure of corporate expenses to influence an election.

But that law did not require these groups to disclose
the sources of the cash
under the presumption that corporations get
their finances from many sources. Bennett said that would be like
requiring the Coca-Cola Co. to list everyone who bought a soda as a
source of its money.

* * *

The legislation would have made those kind of corporations subject to
the same laws and restrictions as any other political committee,
including filing multiple forms each election cycle on the sources of
their cash and how the money is spent. But after being approved by
Farnsworth's committee, the bill stalled before ever getting to the
House floor
.

Farnsworth said opposition came not just from Republicans. He said Democrats "have things that they do through unions.''

Separate Democrat-sponsored legislation aimed at
requiring better disclosure of free travel, entertainment and other
benefits from lobbyists and special interests [i.e., the Fiesta Bowl Scandal] fared no better, not even
getting a legislative hearing.

That was then, this is now. The public is disgusted by what Citizens United unleashed in 2012. They are sick of the super PACs and dark money non-profits who are violating their non-profit status by engaging primarily in political activities in support or opposition of a candidate or ballot issue, and using layers upon layers of non-profit "shell" corporations to launder money for their plutocrat contributors whose identities remain secret. These bogus non-profits should lose their tax status and be forced to pay taxes and penalties.

In addition, the only partially successful law to deal with this onslaught of dark money was achieved by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Arizona should look to California's model law for guidance on enacting campaign finance disclosure reforms.

Two versions of the Political Reform Act are provided below. One
version is clean without highlights; the second version shows the new
statutory and regulatory changes from 2011 and early 2012 in a shaded
format. Also for your reference is a link to each of the legislative
bills that amended this version of the Act. Please note that a word
version can also be obtained by sending an email to advice@fppc.ca.gov.


Political Reform Act of 1974 – 2012 Version

Political Reform Act of 1974 – 2012 Shaded Version

(Please note: this is a large Adobe .pdf file – 587 kb – and may require substantial download time on lower speed connections.)

Appendices I-II Uncodified Sections of Proposition 34 and Summary of Opinions

Index

The California Code of Regulations ("CCR"), is the official
compilation and publication of the regulations adopted, amended or
repealed by state agencies. FPPC Regulations are located at Title 2,
Division 6, Sections 18109-18997, of the CCR.

A word of warning: The network of Koch brothers funded front groups that operate out of the state of Maricopa and that were behind the dark money illegal "money laundering" in California will have the Koch brothers funded Americans For Prosperity and Goldwater Institute do everything in their power to defeat any bills in the Arizona legislature aimed at campaign finance disclosure reforms, because these cockroaches thrive by operating in the dark. Plutocratic parasites like Americans For Prosperity and the Goldwater Institute have to be disempowered and defeated if any campaign finance disclosure reforms are going to be enacted.

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