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Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
September 5, 2013

A proposed California campaign finance reform law could backfire and hurt good actors rather than rein in shadowy interest groups, according to watchdog organizations.

After difficult to detect out-of-state money poured into the 2012 election — most notably, an Arizona nonprofit funneled $11 million into two ballot measures in California — the California Fair Political Practices Commission has considered a range of responses, including a slate of bills that would fortify disclosure requirements.

But some California nonprofits have become concerned that one of those bills, intended to illuminate the path of political money, would end up penalizing smaller entities that follow the rules and freely disclose their spending.

Assembly Bill 914, introduced by Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, on behalf of the FPPC, would introduce a new form on which nonprofits that spend at least $50,000 in a given election cycle would need to list their donors. That could translate into costly, redundant and time-consuming paperwork for nonprofits that already comply with regulations, according to Phillip Ung, a policy advocate for the California branch of Common Cause.

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