New State Resolution Could Solve California’s “Dark Money” Problem

Written by Nathaniel Mannor

State legislators have been under pressure for receiving donations from nonprofits that either they or their family members work at or control. These donations go towards political campaigns and contribute to personal trips, luxurious steak dinners, or retreats to Disneyland.

Many top California politicians benefit from this system. Governor Gavin Newsom raised $881,297 for the California Partners Project, a nonprofit run by his wife. Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio received $62,000 from the Rubio Foundation controlled by her sister, Sylvia Rubio. And Rob Banta, Attorney General of California, raked in $132,500 from the Bonta California Progressive Foundation. He then donated $25,000 to his wife’s nonprofit by soliciting donations from lobbyists, which finance ethicists have frowned upon.

This Thursday, the Fair Political Practices Commission will introduce two new resolutions to deter the behest payments to state legislators, and a vote is expected this fall. One states that elected officials must disclose when they ask favors from organizations they or their family members are involved in. The other requires upfront information when they are interested in decisions that would impact them.

However, this doesn’t affect legislation, so state legislators can still vote for legislation that benefits businesses that donate to their nonprofits. The reason for this is that legislation has wide-ranging results that don’t typically affect specific organizations.

These new regulations will help limit ways politicians can abuse their offices by taking money from outside sources and offering transparency as to where and how lawmakers get their funds from.