Republicans on Monday blocked a California campaign finance reform bill that fell one vote short, demonstrating the limits of a diminished Democratic caucus. Senate Bill 27, by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, sought to lift the veil on outside campaign spending by compelling nonprofits to identify their donors if contributions hit certain benchmarks, such as when a nonprofit spends more than $50,000 in a given election cycle. The bill’s basic premise of requiring broader disclosure of campaign donations was sound, said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, but he objected to the timeline. The bill carried an urgency clause that would allow it to take effect in July, before the upcoming election. “We will be subjecting people to a different process,” Huff said. “They will not have had time to understand the rules of engagement changed.”
Bills amending the Political Reform Act require a two-thirds vote, making them closely watched tests of Democratic dominance. Legal troubles have ensnared two Democratic senators, Rod Wright of Baldwin Hills and Ron Calderon of Montebello, and dropped Senate Democrats below their two-thirds margin.
Last year, when Wright and Calderon still sat in the Senate chambers, Correa’s measure advanced beyond the Senate without a single Republican vote. During debate on the Assembly floor in February, Republicans decried a bill they said would muffle dissenting voices and unfairly alter the rules in the middle of an election cycle.