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ravel.jpgThe California Fair Political Practices Commission on Wednesday morning formally backed several bills aimed at strengthening the state's campaign finance rules.

Members of the political watchdog examined proposals before the Legislature to change the scope of the Political Reform Act of 1974, which is the source of the commission's authority.

The panel voted unanimously to sponsor Senate Bill 27, by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, to require more disclosure in certain situations from donors who make contributions intended to influence California politics.

The bill is an attempt to expose to sunlight the increasingly murky world of political spending, where out-of-state organizations have poured money into California through intermediary entities, concealing the original source of the funds. One notorious example involved an Arizona-based nonprofit called Americans for Responsible Leadership, which deployed $11 million during the last election cycle in an effort to defeat some key Democratic initiatives.

Also receiving unanimous votes for sponsorship were Assembly Bill 552 and Assembly Bill 1090, by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino and Assembly Bill 914, by Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park.

AB 552 would fortify FPPC's enforcement authority by giving it more power to collect unpaid fines and penalties. AB 914 would have the FPPC develop a new disclosure form to track the money certain politically active nonprofits take in and spend, and AB 1090 would crack down on conflicts of interest.

The FPPC also voted 5-0 to support Gordon's Assembly Bill 800 and Assembly Bill 45, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento. Supporting is not as strong an endorsement as sponsoring.

All of the bills require a two-thirds vote for passage.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, testifies at a hearing in Sacramento, on Dec. 8, 2011. Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press file.



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