By Torey Van Oot
Published: Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 – 6:59 am

The concept of banning California lawmakers from fundraising while they’re at work has a new cheerleader: a former head of the state’s political watchdog agency.

Dan Schnur, a former Republican political consultant who served as chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, is launching a new effort to prohibit state legislators and statewide officers from raising cash when the Legislature is in session.

“Fundraising is a legitimate political activity. Legislating is a legitimate political activity. But you can’t do both of those things at the same time,” Schnur said in an interview last week.

It isn’t unusual for lawmakers to leave the Capitol at midday to raise money at a luncheon reception, or ask supporters for campaign cash at off-site fundraisers held before or after a day of votes. They’ve held 47 such events in Sacramento this month alone, according to notices posted in the Capitol Morning Report newsletter.

Changing that practice, Schnur said, will “weaken the link between political giving and government action.”

“Human nature being what it is, a large check written six months before a key vote is simply not going to have the same impact as that same check written 20 minutes before that same vote,” he said.

One plan Schnur is floating would mostly end incumbent fundraising between January and June, and then again in the month of August. The restriction would not apply to challengers.

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