By Josh Richman jrichman@bayareanewsgroup.com
Posted: 11/28/2014 04:19:17 PM PST
Updated: 11/28/2014 04:22:54 PM PST

California’s public officials would have to reveal more about how rich they are and the businesses they’re involved in, under a state Assembly bill to be introduced Monday when the Legislature returns for its traditional one-day December session.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto was already working on the bill before a Oct. 19 story in this newspaper about the vagueness of Gov. Jerry Brown’s financial disclosures under state requirements that haven’t been updated in decades.

“Increased transparency is essential to protecting public resources, preventing corruption and restoring public trust,” said Gatto, D-Glendale. “This legislation will bring disclosure requirements into the 21st century. These reforms will shed light on business dealings of political insiders and give Californian’s greater access to the information they deserve.”

The bill would require officials to report not only the names of business entities they invest in, but also “a thorough and detailed description of the business entity’s activities” and “the names of all business partners who share a financial interest in the business entity.”

That’s often left unclear or simply not reported under current law, making it hard to detect possible conflicts of interest. For example, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013 disclosure reported between $10,001 and $100,000 invested with “Round Two Investment Partners,” described only as an “investment in a variety of interests” with no mention of who the other investors are.

“The big part in this bill is listing the partners,” said Robert Stern, who helped write the Political Reform Act of 1974 and is a former general counsel to the Fair Political Practices Commission, California’ political watchdog agency.

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