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NATIONAL
January 21, 2010 | By James Oliphant
Viewers in media markets nationwide are already well familiar with being bombarded with ads either supporting or criticizing candidates for Congress and the White House in the months before an election. But that could be nothing compared with what today's landmark Supreme Court campaign-finance decision appears to invite, experts say. The ruling removes limits on corporations from spending their money on federal races, meaning that companies -- and probably labor unions -- will be free, for instance, to buy up advertising time days and weeks before an election to support or attack a potential candidate, perhaps creating slick spots with high production values similar to drug or car ads, or purchasing large blocks of network time.
ARTICLES BY DATE
OPINION
April 3, 2014 | By Jessica A. Levinson
Thank you, Supreme Court. Before your decision Wednesday in McCutcheon vs. FEC, Americans were confined to giving a measly total of $48,600 in campaign contributions to federal candidates (enough for about nine candidates) and a total of $74,600 to political action committees. That means individuals were subject to aggregate contributions limits totaling a mere $123,200. Of course, individuals could, and still can, give unlimited sums to independent groups, such as so-called super PACs and other nonprofit corporations.
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OPINION
June 11, 2011
Like it or not, and we didn't like it, the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission determined that corporations have a constitutional right to make independent expenditures in connection with an election — expenditures, that is, on behalf of (or against) a candidate, but not given directly to the candidate's campaign. Such spending, the court said, may not be limited. But the court left standing a 100-year-old prohibition on direct corporate contributions to political campaigns.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 1, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - Stung by criminal cases involving three state senators, Democratic legislative leaders vowed Tuesday to reassess their campaign finance practices, and canceled a lucrative golf fundraiser scheduled for this weekend. The promise of self-scrutiny among Senate Democrats was just one way last week's criminal complaint against Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) detailing public corruption and arms trafficking charges continues to reverberate through the Capitol. Also on Tuesday, federal agents were again present in a legislative office building, searching a room used by Yee as an overflow office, according to Senate workers.
NEWS
April 30, 2013 | By Jon Healey
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is resisting a push by activists and journalists for better disclosure of campaign finance data, arguing in essence that it would cost too much to comply. It's a surprising stance from Bowen, whose office has fought to make more information about donors available to California voters. It also strains credulity. At issue is a request by MapLight California, California Common Cause and 10 others, including this newspaper, for a downloadable version of the campaign finance data that the secretary of state collects.
NATIONAL
July 28, 2010 | By James Oliphant, Tribune Washington Bureau
Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a vote on a bill that would force special interest groups to disclose their donors when purchasing political ads, defeating an effort to impose new campaign finance regulations before the November congressional election. As the Senate's 41 Republicans voted in unison to filibuster the bill, Democrats vowed to bring the legislation up again. "This fight will continue," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the bill's sponsor. The result had been expected, as Democratic leaders failed to round up the necessary 60 votes to move the bill forward, and came a day after President Obama spoke in favor of the bill from the White House Rose Garden.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 10, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
Two former state lawmakers have agreed to pay fines for violating campaign finance rules, according to documents released Monday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. Former Assembly members Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) each agreed to pay $1,000 in fines to the FPPC for not reporting some campaign expenditures by the deadlines. Caballero, a member of Gov. Jerry Brown's cabinet, admitted her unsuccessful 2010 campaign for state Senate failed to properly report subvendor information for $825,335 in spending.
NEWS
May 17, 2011 | By Melanie Mason
A recently formed outside money group is testing the limits of independent political spending, alarming campaign finance reform advocates. Indiana attorney James Bopp Jr., one of the lawyers who brought the watershed Citizens United case before the Supreme Court, registered the political action committee, the Republican Super PAC, with the Federal Election Commission last week. As an independent expenditure-only committee, the group can raise unlimited funds from individuals and corporations to advocate for or against candidates.  These "super PACs" are banned from coordinating with candidates or parties.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 30, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The California Republican Party violated state campaign finance rules by failing to properly disclose its contributions last year to a campaign against newly drawn state Senate districts, the state's ethics agency has concluded. In all, the state GOP provided $1.9 million in contributions, in-kind services and loans to the group Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR), which qualified a ballot measure to overturn the new state Senate redistricting maps. After the Supreme Court found the maps were properly drawn, FAIR dropped its opposition to the redistricting plan.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 20, 2014 | By Catherine Saillant
In the first major debate of the campaign, four of the candidates vying to replace Zev Yaroslavsky on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors faced off Thursday in a debate that focused mostly on fundraising. It was an opportunity for key contenders to begin shaping their messages and distinguishing themselves from rivals before an audience on the UCLA campus. And they didn't hold back. The candidates discussed how best to work with a new sheriff to fix the county's crowded jails and how they plan to appeal to voters in the San Fernando Valley, where half the votes lie. But the most heated exchange came as they discussed the effect of money in the campaign, and how dollars are being raised.
NATIONAL
February 21, 2014
Barack Obama was first sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2009, and, from that day to this, a battle for the soul of America has been waged. The half-decade since has been one of the most politically polarized periods in U.S. history as conservative talk radio hosts, Fox News commentators, secretive billionaire campaign financiers, the NRA, the tea party movement and right wing celebrities such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck have all tried to delegitimize the...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 20, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO-The Assembly approved a measure Thursday that would ramp up disclosure requirements for nonprofit groups and other organizations that spend money in California campaigns, a response to a infamous multimillion-dollar anonymous donation in 2012. The measure, by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) would establish thresholds under which organizations would have to disclose their donors, such as when an organization receives $1,000 or more from donors for the purpose of making expenditures or contributions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 11, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The state ethics agency's proposed $133,500 fine of lobbyist Kevin Sloat for making improper campaign contributions to lawmakers has become an issue in the race for secretary of state. One candidate for that office, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), was one of some 40 lawmakers and other officials who received warning letters saying that Sloat's payment of expenses at fundraisers amounted to improper campaign contributions. However, none of the lawmakers faces a penalty after investigators for the state Fair Political Practices Commission concluded they did not know some expenses for wine, liquor and cigars were paid by Sloat.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 10, 2014 | By David Zahniser
A San Fernando Valley businessman who admitted to illegally reimbursing campaign contributors during the 2011 municipal election faces a $45,000 fine from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. Juan Carlos Jaramillo, 52, has already agreed to pay the proposed penalty, which stems from his fundraising activities in support of Rudy Martinez, who lost to City Councilman Jose Huizar. The Ethics Commission must decide Thursday whether to impose the fine or seek a different penalty.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 7, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy and Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are among 40 elected officials being notified by state ethics authorities that contributions they received from a lobbyist were improper. Lobbyists are not permitted to donate to, or arrange donations for, candidates for state office under California's campaign finance laws. Representatives for Brown and several other officials issued statements Friday saying their clients had no knowledge that lavish expenses for fundraisers from which they benefited in the past four years were paid for, at least in part, by a lobbying firm.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 1, 2014 | By Phil Willon
Money flowed into the election campaigns for California's slate of lower-rung statewide political offices in 2013, a batch of races expected to vary from piping hot to, well, snoozers. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom currently face little if any opposition in the June primary. Harris raised just over $2.5 million in political contributions in 2013, state election records show. Her biggest supporters included the legal community, labor unions and Hollywood benefactors, including actress Halle Berry and movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 31, 2014 | By Anthony York
Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't officially declared his intention to seek a fourth term as governor this year, but he has $17 million available to spend on a campaign. Brown added $9.9 million to his reelection account during 2013, on top of the $7 million he had banked at the beginning of the year. The report also illustrates some of the unique advantages Brown enjoys in the campaign world, after a political career that has spanned six decades. His high name recognition and deep political connections have allowed him to avoid spending large sums on consultants and fundraisers.
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