SACRAMENTO – Over the weekend, the San Jose Mercury News
published an article highlighting how some California legislators are taking in large sums of cash from special interests despite contribution limits to personal campaign accounts.Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) this year authored Senate Bill 1467
that would have limited the use of the “slush funds” highlighted in the Mercury News article. SB 1467 had the support of Dan Schnur, a former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission; California Common Cause; and Voices of Progress, whose California State Director is Sandra Fluke.
Yet, majority party members on the Senate Appropriations Committee killed the bill in May. On the same day it killed SB 1467, the majority party approved Senate Bill 254, which is a non-binding ballot box poll of California voters on campaign finance reform.
Excerpts of the article can be found below. To read it in its entirety, click here.
Sacramento’s new ‘slush funds’: Ballot measure committees
San Jose Mercury News – By Jessica Calefati and Kaitlyn Landgraf
Hamstrung by strict limits on political contributions, California lawmakers have found a way to continue to extract large sums from some of Sacramento’s most powerful special interests.
Increasingly, they’re using “ballot measure committees,” little-known and barely regulated accounts that are supposed to promote or oppose state and local initiatives, but in practice are paying for consultants and polling firms, new suits and trips to Mexico. And the money for the politicians’ perks comes in the form of five-figure donations from the same special interests that state rules were intended to curtail. …
A bill authored this year by state Sen. Pat Bates, a Republican from Laguna Niguel, would have barred candidates and elected officials from using money raised by candidate-controlled ballot measure committees to promote themselves, their candidacies or the campaigns of others.
That bill died quietly in the Senate Appropriations Committee in May without any explanation from the Democratic members about why they refused to support it. All but three of the legislators who now have ballot measure committees are Democrats.
The lack of transparency is unacceptable, Bates said.
“We need to give the public a reason to have faith in government and believe that politicians are not bought and paid for,” she said. “We’re testing their faith in government when we refuse to close loopholes like this one.”