After an anonymous $11-million donation from Arizona sent shock waves through California politics last year, the state Capitol seemed primed for new measures to tighten campaign finance rules. But several proposals fell by the wayside as lawmakers finished their work last week. Bills that would have increased the power of California’s campaign finance watchdog, boosted fines for violations and forced greater disclosure of donors — among other measures — stalled in the Legislature. Just one bill was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, SB 3, by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). It would require new training for campaign treasurers and mandate that officials study the possibility of replacing the state’s outdated website for tracking campaign finance information. Lawmakers said they would revisit the topic when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
“We are disappointed we couldn’t get it done this year but optimistic we can get it done next year,” said Phil Ung of California Common Cause, which advocates more transparency and worked with lawmakers on some of the proposals.
It remains to be seen whether new rules could be put in place before next year’s June primary or even the November general election. Lawmakers would need to add urgency clauses, making sure any measures would take effect immediately if the governor signed them.