By Jeremy B. White
jwhite@sacbee.com
Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 – 11:00 pm

A pair of bills requiring greater transparency from electioneering nonprofits are one step away from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Lawmakers have sought to fortify campaign spending rules since out-of-state nonprofit groups poured $11 million into the 2012 election cycle, a flexing of financial muscle that eventually earned the entities a $1 million California Fair Political Practices Commission fine. Both the Senate and the Assembly on Thursday approved bills that would implement new rules in time for this year’s election.

“Simply put, our law needs to catch up with the way” nonprofits have found to skirt reporting requirements, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, said in bringing to the Assembly floor a bill designed to force more disclosures.

Unlike donations to political action committees, contributions to nonprofit groups do not necessarily require disclosure. Advocates of tougher laws say the current system enables a shell game, with donors able to influence elections but cloak their identity.

Senate Bill 27, by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, seeks to address the situation by laying out circumstances in which politically active nonprofits must reveal their donors.

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