A Sacramento judge has ordered the Arizona nonprofit behind an $11 million contribution to a California political committee to produce documents for an audit by the Fair Political Practices Commission by 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership had objected to the FPPC's request for documentation as a violation of the First Amendment, a transgression of the commission's own policies and rules and as a politically-motivated move by the state to squash a political opponent of Gov. Jerry Brown.
The group gave $11 million to the independent Small Business Action Committee, which is both fighting Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30, and supporting Proposition 32, the campaign finance measure that would ban payroll deductions as a source for political activities.
FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel is a Brown appointee.
Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang said that on balance, the public's right to know by Election Day if the nonprofit violated disclosure laws outweighed the group's concerns.
It's not clear whether the commission can conduct its audit and, if the results warrant, reveal by Tuesday who is behind the nonprofit's donation. The matter could still get hung up in the courts.
In a prepared statement, said Matt Ross, spokesman for Americans Responsible Leadership's legal team said, "We are disappointed in the today's court ruling. We have asserted all along that the FPPC does not have the authority to issue an audit in advance of the election. We continue to believe so and will appeal this case."
Click here for the story on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.
Added at 11:27 p.m.: Sacr County FPPC V ARL Final order- 1031.pdf to read the court ruling, which is also embedded below.