Governor Brown Signs SB 27 — Sheds Light on Dark Money

SACRAMENTO — Today Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 27, reforming the Political Reform Act of 1974 to further regulate campaign financing, adding the requirement that committees disclose donors of $1000 or more where those donations were solicited for the purpose of making contributions or expenditures in California. This essential campaign disclosure bill will go a long way toward improving California’s campaign disclosure laws by closing the nonprofit reporting loophole.

“Today is a great day for transparency and accountability,” stated Sarah Swanbeck, Legislative Affairs Advocate at California Common Cause. “This critical piece of legislation will lift the veil that hides the identity of secret contributors who influence California elections.”

SB 27 was initially introduced by Senator Lou Correa and sponsored by California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California, and the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) in the wake of large sums of out-of-state anonymous donations attempting to circumvent California’s disclosure regulations. In October of 2012, two out-of-state nonprofit organizations contributed $15 million to two campaign committees that opposed Proposition 30 and supported Proposition 32. Thanks to the complaint filed by California Common Cause, the FPPC forced the two groups to disclose their donors and ultimately levied a record fine of $1 million for improperly concealing their campaign contributions. Currently, California has collected only $300,000 of this $1 million fine.

Signing SB 27 into law shows that Sacramento is committed to giving Californians as much information as possible about who is funding campaign ads and messages so that voters can make informed decisions.

Once implemented, the new law will improve the efficacy of other disclosure bills under consideration by the California Legislature, such as SB 1253, the Ballot Imitative Transparency Act. Implementation will not occur until after the 2014 election cycle.