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Court decision shields identity of donor to Arizona nonprofit

A decision by a California appeals court has made it increasingly unlikely that voters will know before election day who is behind an $11-million campaign donation from an Arizona nonprofit group.

November 03, 2012|By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — A Friday decision by a California appeals court has made it increasingly unlikely that voters will know before election day who is behind a controversial $11-million campaign donation from an Arizona nonprofit group.

The court declined to order the group to turn over records to the state's campaign finance watchdog while a legal dispute over the audit continues.

California's Fair Political Practices Commission wanted records on Thursday so it could begin determining whether the nonprofit is improperly shielding its contributors' identities.

A Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the nonprofit to comply with the audit. But the group filed an appeal Thursday that has delayed the process.

In response, the Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday asked the California Supreme Court to force an immediate audit.

Commission chairwoman Ann Ravel said in an interview that the drawn-out legal case shows the need for laws that would make it easier to unmask donors who anonymously funnel money through nonprofits.

The Arizona nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Leadership, gave the $11 million to the conservative Small Business Action Committee, which is fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike campaign and promoting a separate ballot measure that would curb unions' political influence.

chris.megerian@latimes.com

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