Most of the bills were written or amended following the federal corruption investigation of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and the record-setting FPPC fine on lobbyist Kevin Sloat for hosting officials at his home for lavish campaign fundraisers. Pressure mounted even further on the Senate when Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was charged last month on charges that he took bribes and conspired to illegally sell weapons during a years-long FBI sting. Yee and Calderon have both pleaded not guilty in separate cases.
The Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee passed the following bills with a unanimous and bipartisan vote:
* - SB 1441 by Sen. Ricardo Lara: Would ban campaign fundraisers at lobbyists' homes, eliminating a rule that currently allows them to host events that cost up to $500.
* - SB 1442 by Lara: Would require political fundraising committees to file campaign finance reports four times a year, up from the current requirement of twice a year.
* - SB 1443 by Sen. Kevin de León: Would reduce the value of gifts officials can receive from any single source from the current $440 to $200. Would ban all gifts from lobbyists, eliminating a current rule that allows lobbyists to give up to $10 a month. Would prohibit officials from accepting certain kinds of gifts from anyone, including tickets to concerts, sports events and amusement parks; spa services and rounds of golf; cash and gift cards.
* - Senate Bill 1103 by Sen. Alex Padilla: Would prohibit a politician from simultaneously raising money for multiple state offices.
Other bills cleared the committee on a party-line votes, with Republican Sen. Joel Anderson voting no:
* - Senate Bill 1101 by Padilla: Would ban political fundraising during the last 100 days of the legislative session and for seven days after session ends.
* - Senate Bill 1102 by Padilla: Would increase the reporting required of small political contributions by mandating disclosure of donations of $100 or more within 24 hours during the 90 days preceding an election and within 5 business days the rest of the year.
* - Senate Bill 831 by Sen. Jerry Hill: Would make numerous changes to the Political Reform Act, including: forbidding politicians facing criminal charges from using campaign funds to pay their legal bills; prohibiting officials from giving campaign funds to nonprofits operated by their political colleagues and banning the use of campaign funds for things like rent, utility bills, vacations, tuition and gifts to family members. It would also place a new $5,000 cap on the amount of travel gifts officials could receive from nonprofit organizations, and require groups providing the travel to disclose their financial donors to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
PHOTO: Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, talks about the proposed California Accountability in Public Service Act during a Capitol news conference where he and other Democratic lawmakers announced a package of bills intended to impose new rules on public officials on Thursday March 6, 2014. At right is State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and at left is Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The Sacramento Bee/ Renée C. Byer