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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
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 24, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - State authorities Thursday imposed $40,000 in fines against Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) and two GOP committees after finding that the lawmaker laundered that amount of political money into his brother's 2008 Assembly campaign. The state Fair Political Practices Commission voted unanimously to uphold an administrative law judge's ruling that Berryhill committed a "serious and deliberate" violation of California's campaign finance laws. The commissioners decided in a 20-minute closed session to include in the fines the Stanislaus County and San Joaquin County Republican central committees for their role as conduits in passing $40,000 from Berryhill to his brother's successful campaign.
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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 24, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- A campaign finance watchdog panel decided Thursday to levy $40,000 in fines against state Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) and two GOP committees after concluding that the senator laundered a like amount of  political funds to his brother's 2008 Assembly campaign. The state Fair Political Practices Commission voted unanimously to uphold an administrative law judge's ruling that Berryhill committed a “serious and deliberate” violation of campaign finance laws. The FPPC decided after a 20-minute closed session to also fine the Stanislaus County and San Joaquin County Republican central committees for their role as conduits to pass $40,000 from  Berryhill to the Assembly campaign of Bill Berryhill.
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.
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
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.
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.
OPINION
April 23, 2014
Re "Money won't buy you votes," Opinion, April 20 Law professor Peter H. Schuck makes the ridiculous suggestion that because the amount of money spent in the 2012 election was considerably less than what Americans spent on cosmetic surgery in 2011, we shouldn't worry about it. Then he notes that campaign spending as a share of the gross domestic product has not risen appreciably for more than a century. Why should campaign spending be related to economic output? Schuck cites a study finding that an extra $175,000 in campaign spending increases a candidate's vote tally by a third of a percentage point.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 18, 2014 | By Seema Mehta
The state's political ethics watchdog has opened an investigation into the finances of a political action committee founded by gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly, according to a report published Friday evening by the Sacramento Bee.‎ The California Patriots PAC, designed to promote conservative candidates, has not filed financial disclosure statements since October 2012, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission. Donnelly disputes this, telling the Bee that the reports were filed and new copies were sent to the FPPC on Thursday.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 13, 2014 | Catherine Saillant, Abby Sewell
Bobby Shriver, the first Los Angeles County supervisorial contender in 18 years to opt out of voluntary campaign spending limits, is calling for a major overhaul of county election laws, including lifting fundraising restrictions on candidates who use personal wealth to help pay for their campaigns. Last month, the Santa Monica lawyer and nonprofit director contributed $300,000 of his own money to his effort to succeed longtime west county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Shriver, a member of the Kennedy political family, criticized a $1.4-million voluntary spending limit in the June 3 primary as inadequate to get his message out to 2 million constituents.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 3, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO -- California's ethics and tax agencies now have more power to conduct campaign finance investigations under a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. The law gives the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Franchise Tax Board the ability to begin audits, before an election occurs, of campaigns suspected of illegal activities, even if campaign statements or finance reports have not yet been filed. It also explicitly allows the commission to seek an injunction in Superior Court to compel disclosure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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