Padilla touts ‘blackout period’ for fundraising

California lawmakers would be prohibited from raising campaign funds in the final 100 days of a legislative session, under a state Senate bill announced this week.

Alex PadillaIt’s one of four campaign-reform bills put forth by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, who perhaps not coincidentally is a candidate for Secretary of State, which among other things is the state’s chief elections officer.

Padilla’s other three bills would tighten campaign contribution reporting requirements; prohibit candidates or officeholders from having more than one campaign committee for a state office at any one time; and require public disclosure of campaign communications.

Amending the Political Reform Act of 1974 requires a two-thirds vote of each legislative house plus Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, Padilla noted.

“Clearly, I cannot do this alone. I will need the support of my colleagues and the governor,” he said. “I believe that the reforms I am proposing will provide a clearer view of the source and use of campaign money, and reduce the likelihood of an unseemly overlap of public policy and campaign contributions.”

SB 1101 would emulate similar laws in 29 states by creating a fundraising “blackout period” of 100 days before and seven days after the end of a legislative session, during which a member of the Legislature could not solicit or accept campaign contributions. That way, Padilla reasons, that lawmaker couldn’t take money during critical budget votes and at the end-of-session rush when all sorts of last-minute “gut-and-amend” measures are up for votes.

SB 1102 would require contributions of $100 or more to be electronically reported within 24 hours during the 90 days before an election and within five business days during the rest of the year. For now, contributions of $5000 and above must be reported electronically within 10 days and contributions of $1000 and above must be reported within 24 hours within 90 days of an election. The requirement also would apply to independent expenditure committees supporting or opposing candidates for state offices, and to statewide ballot measure committees.

SB 1103 would prohibit an officeholder or candidate from declaring candidacy and raising money for more than one state elected office at a time; current law allows multiple simultaneous committees, which could be used to cumulatively raise far more than established campaign contribution limits.

SB 1104 would require all campaigns to electronically report all campaign-funded communications – mass mailings, slate mailers, and advertisements supporting or opposing a candidate or measure – that they do within 90 days of an election to the Secretary of State’s office within one day. Outside of the 90-day window, they’d have to be reported within five days.

“While our current system does provide full disclosure, it lacks timely full disclosure,” Padilla said. “Current law governing disclosure keeps the public and the press in the dark much of the year. Denying the public and the press timely disclosure fuels distrust.”

More, including a rival candidate’s critique, after the jump…

Dan Schnur, a longtime GOP strategist who’s now running as an independent for Secretary of State, wrote a column Friday for Fox & Hounds saying Padilla is offering too little, too late.

Dan Schnur“After almost 15 years as an elected officeholder, Senator Alex Padilla decided this week that politicians shouldn’t be raising campaign money and making laws at the same time,” Schnur wrote. “Senator Padilla’s version of the ban is a good start, but it must be strengthened significantly before it can realistically weaken the link between political giving and government action and restore sanity to an out-of-control fundraising arms race in Sacramento.”

Schnur said he has proposed banning lawmakers from raising funds for any committee during the entire legislative session, not just for their own committees in the final 100 days, and the ban should apply only to incumbents, not challengers.

“If Senator Padilla is willing to strengthen his bill to meet those three standards, I will be both a willing and eager supporter of it,” Schnur said. “But without those standards in place, voters will simply dismiss it as the work of a career politician looking for cover during a time when an ongoing series of scandals consume the State Capitol.”

Other candidates for Secretary of State this year include state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; good-government activist Derek Cressman, also a Democrat; Pete Peterson, a Republican and civic-participation expert; and David Curtis, a Green and residential designer.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    This is sour grapes. Nobody is offering big bucks to the poor little lawmaker

  • Marga

    Padilla has gotten plenty of money, much more than his opponents on this race. BUT, he’s also in trouble for having fundraisers thrown by a lobbyst, which violated the law.

    So he’s trying to look like he is not totally corrupt, while offering a cosmetic solution to a real problem.

    Here is what Derek Cressman had to say about it, even before Padilla proposed it. BTW, I don’t know Cressman, but he seems the most qualified for the position. http://www.derekcressman.com/lipstick_on_a_pig

  • JohnW

    I’d have to think about the unintended consequences. But, on the surface, most of this seems to make sense.