Capitol Weekly

Posted 02.11.2014

Millions of dollars of so-called “dark money” that poured into California’s November 2012 elections has prompted a ballot initiative that would require nonprofits to disclose donations for political activities.

The state’s elections officer on Tuesday cleared the way for the measure’s backers, led by organized labor, to circulate petitions for signatures of registered voters. The proposal needs the signatures of 504,760 voters to qualify for the November ballot. The deadline to submit the signatures to election officials is July 10.

“This is labor’s backup if the Legislature doesn’t deal with the problem,” said Lance Olson, a Sacramento-based attorney who handles major political cases for Democrats and their allies. Legislation with disclosure provisions currently are being considered in the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats in both houses.

The proposed initiative would require a nonprofit organization to disclose its donors of $1,000 or more if it spends more than $50,000 a year on political activities. It also requires some nonprofits to disclose their donors of $10,000 or more if the nonprofit spends $400,000 per legislative session or $75,000 per calendar year on lobbying, or “on communications that identify but do not advocate for or against a candidate,” according to the official summary by the state attorney general.

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