Steve Lopez: Time to disclose the political funny money
Is there a silver lining in the obscene amount of money
poured into California's political races?
Post-election, you've got to wonder if the funny money that
fell out of the sky on a jet stream from Arizona influenced
the outcome of Propositions 30 and 32, and if the donations
You may recall that $11 million, the largest out-of-state
contribution in California election history, was sent late
in the campaign from a conservative Arizona political
action committee to a conservative political action
committee in Sacramento. The money went into the fight
against Gov. Brown's Proposition 30, a tax increase to help
schools and other government programs, and for Prop. 32,
which sought to prohibit unions from making paycheck
deductions for political purposes.
Oh, the games we play in politics, where money flows like
never before, thanks in part to the Citizens United
decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court opened the
floodgates of anonymous spending, with interest groups
often defining campaign issues even more so than the
In this case, the PACs refused to identify the sugar
daddies who wrote the $11 million worth of checks. Nice.
The spectacle wasn't already sleazy enough, so they hid the
identities of the donors.
Despite this, Prop. 30 won and Prop. 32 got hammered. And
Trent Lange, director of the California Clean Money
Campaign, figures the shenanigans might help in the
nonprofit's next attempt to require full disclosure of
donors to political causes.
"Everything we've been fighting for with the California
Disclose Act has been highlighted many times over,
especially with the Arizona money-laundering thing," said
The Disclose Act passed the Assembly last year but didn't
get to the Senate in time for a vote. Lange said revisions
will be made to specifically outlaw what happened in the
Arizona case, and he and his colleagues are now working on
getting another bill through the Legislature this year and
onto the ballot in 2014. You can learn more at
If they can pull that off, Lange said, the organization's
next push will be for public financing of campaigns.
A long shot, sure. But it's already got my vote.
See the article on Los Angeles Times website