Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014 – 10:10 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014 – 10:28 pm

Sunshine, it’s been said, is the best political disinfectant.

Indeed, a good argument can be made that rapid and complete disclosure of campaign contributions would do more for political sanitation than all the other nostrums of self-proclaimed reformers.

In that context, Senate Bill 27, which would close obvious loopholes in reporting contributions from supposedly nonprofit groups that can now keep their donors secret, makes sense.

The legislation, carried by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, responds to a flap two years ago in which $11 million passed through several such groups before being spent to oppose Proposition 30, the tax hike being sponsored by Gov. Jerry Brown, and to support Proposition 32, which was aimed at limiting labor unions’ political fundraising.

The Fair Political Practices Commission investigated, but only some of the original donors were revealed.

The bill passed the Senate last year, was amended in the Assembly and then failed by one vote in the Senate this week.

While SB 27 should become law as a general observation, slow-motion handling by its putative supporters may have doomed it. The bill could have been enacted in time to be applied to this year’s elections had Democratic leaders simply moved it when they had the votes.

It was originally passed by the Senate on a party-line vote nearly a year ago and languished in the Assembly for months while amendments were written.

It passed the Assembly in January, but a final Senate vote was delayed until after two senators facing criminal charges took leaves of absence, thus erasing the Democratic supermajority, and it fell one vote short this week.

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