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Headline from the Sacramento Bee: Gov. Brown signs law requiring political nonprofits to identify donors

This, at the very minimum, gets dark money out of the initiative process. As you remember, that started out as a refreshing exercise in direct democracy and ended up being subverted by money, by bigotry or by both. Let's look at what this bill, SB 27, does.

This began in the battle over Propositions 30 and 32 in the 2012 election. Proposition 30, a sales and income tax initiative designed to make up some of the shortfall in the state's education funding and to help balance the state's budget, raised taxes on Californians reporting over $250,000 in annual income. It was countered by Proposition 32,  a so-called "Paycheck Protection Act" which, according to, would have

Banned corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates.
Banned contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them.
Banned automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages to be used for politics
This was one of those "stealth" propositions designed to fool the voters, supported by, among other institutions, the California Republican Party. The result?
Senate Bill 27 was inspired by the 2012 ballot measure wars in California, when two out-of-state nonprofit groups poured $15 million into fighting Proposition 30 and supporting Proposition 32. Because of the groups’ nonprofit status, they were not required to report where their donations originally came from, leading some to describe the contributions as “dark money.”
The state's political watchdogs went after these groups and forced them to pay a $1,000,000 fine. But that wasn't going to keep them out of state politics, so a law had to be passed.

Here's what it does:

And that’s where Sen. Lou Correa’s SB 27 comes in. The bill by the Santa Ana Democrat requires nonprofit groups disclose the names of donors who give them $1,000 or more to spend on political activity in California, if the group makes contributions of more than $50,000 in a year, or $100,000 over four years. The disclosure requirement kicks in with donations made after July 1 of this year.
It's a good start. But as the California Clean Money Action Fund said in an email message I received this afternoon
The SB 27 victory is just the first of many battles over Big Money.  We still have to make political ads show who really pays for them by passing the California DISCLOSE Act (SB 52).  We must also overturn the Supreme Court's terrible Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions.
Here's a link to their press release about SB 27. And HERE'S a link to their petition to thank Jerry Brown for signing this and to urge him to sign the DISCLOSE Act when it gets to his desk.

We still have work to do. But this tells me it can be done in California.

Originally posted to California politics on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders.

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