Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014 – 3:53 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014 – 9:53 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Despite a series of political scandals that marred the California state Senate this year, Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he had vetoed key ethics bills seeking to place new restrictions on gift giving and campaign spending.

The Democratic governor said politicians should be subject to campaign finance rules, but the general activities addressed in the bills already are subject to regulation and disclosure.

The political ethics bills originated in the state Senate, where lawmakers have been under a cloud after federal agents arrested two Democrats in unrelated corruption cases. Agents say supporters lavished gifts and dinners on Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco and Ron Calderon of Montebello to curry favor.

“Year after year, the same concerns are raised about the same political practices currently permitted by state law, which these vetoed bills sought to address,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, in a statement. “This was an opportunity missed.”

SB831 by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, sought to ban elected officials from requesting payments on their behalf to nonprofit organizations run by family members.

“I don’t agree with the Governor that these requirements would add more complexity,” Hill said in a statement. “I believe SB 831 would have provided the public and our elected officials with critical transparency requirements and political expenditure safeguards at a time when the electorate’s confidence has been shaken by recent indictments.”

Federal officials accuse Calderon of directing an undercover agent to donate $25,000 to a nonprofit run by his brother, former lawmaker Tom Calderon, who also is facing charges.

Hill’s legislation also would have placed restrictions on lawmakers trying to spend campaign contributions on personal perks, such as vacations, utility payments, and gifts for family members.

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