Dark money: Governor OKs disclosure rules

Gov. Brown on Wednesday signed into law new disclosure rules for nonprofits, a move prompted by the 11th-hour flood of stealth cash that roiled the November 2012 elections.

The bill takes effect in July – after this year’s primary elections but in time for the general election. It forces nonprofits to make public the names of donors who provide at least $1,000 for state political activities. It applies to nonprofits that spend at least $50,000 annually on political activities, or at least $100,000 over four years, according to a Senate analysis.

The bill, SB 27 by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, was backed by the Fair Political Practices Commission, which had investigated the infusion of some $15 million into the final weeks of the November 2012 general election. The money was spent to defeat a package of temporary income and sales taxes on the ballot, Proposition 30, and to support an effort to curtail the political clout of organized labor, Proposition 32.

Proposition 30, pushed by Gov. Brown, was approved. Proposition 32, backed largely by business interests, was rejected.

The FPPC said the money came into the California elections through a pair of Arizona-based nonprofits, groups linked to a nationwide political network that supports conservative political causes. The identities of the donors were not immediately disclosed, although many of the names later became known. The FPPC approved a $1 million penalty to settle the case.

Correa’s bill was supported by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and California Forward, among others.


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