Political Reform Task Force Meets!

Anthony Pignataro:

The Political Reform Act Task Force meets again this afternoon(click here for the meeting agenda and location). Created by state Fair Political Practices Commission Chairman Dan Schnur, the group of campaign watchdogs, political attorneys, consultants, analysts and FPPC staff has been meeting steadily over the last few months, trying to update the state’s regulations governing political campaigns. It’s a daunting task, and judging by this list of reform proposals by the group’s various subcommittees, they’ve been very busy.

Campaign reform can be a bewildering (and, admittedly, dull) topic, but I thought quoting the following paragraph from this letter written yesterday by Common Cause officials Kathay Feng and Katie Fleming to the Task Force perfectly encapsulated the stakes involved in trying to bring a bit more accountability to political races:

“With regard to conflict of interest, we support further transparancy of financial tools that serve to hide conflicts of interest. Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez received $35,000 from labor groups while in office to be a political consultant for them at the same time he was deciding on issues affecting them in his Speaker position. Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger has a similar story. He created an umbrella group called Oak Productions that received much of his outside income. Although the sources of the income were disclosed, the amounts were not, effectively hiding an $8 million contract with American Media while in office. The COI disclosures should cover all entities legally controlled by an official, including subsidiary sources of income.”

Schnur has said that he wants solid recommendations that can be translated into legislation or ballot measures by December, which is next month. Given how loopholes in the current Political Reform Act is a bipartisan sport, it’ll be fascinating to see what, if anything, happens to the task force’s ideas.

NOV. 17, 2010

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