Gifts, Influence and Power

California Common Cause examines gifts provided and travel-related payments made to state elected officials from special interest groups in 2012 and 2013. The reports include ethics reform recommendations to prohibit or limit many of these activities.

When Californians adopted the Political Reform Act (1974) and created the Fair Political Practices Commission it was heralded as a major achievement to campaign finance and ethics reform. Since then, the regulated community -- interest groups, elected officials, political parties, and lobbying entities -- have developed new workarounds to take advantage of loopholes.

Despite broad support among voters and no public opposition, legislative attempts at strengthening California's political ethics lawshave not gained traction. Recent legislative proposals have also taken too narrow an approach to a broad and systemic problem facing public trust.

These reports by Common Cause draw attention to the widespread practice of accepting expensive and highly influential gifts and behested payments from interest groups conducting business before an elected official. They conclude with comprehensive recommendations that the Legislature and the FPPC should enact in order to earn back the trust of voters and return dignity back to the California government.

Download our 2012 report: Gifts, Influence, and Power: A Report of Gifts Given to California's Elected Officials

Download our 2013 report: Politics, Power, and Presents: A Report on Gifts Given to California's State Legislature

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