AB 84: Seeking to alter the balance of campaign power

On January 5, 2017 AB 84 was introduced by Assembly Member Mullin and (Coauthor: Senator Hill)(Principal coauthors: Assembly Members Rendon and Dahle).  The purpose of the bill is to amend the Political Reform Act of 1974: political party committee disclosures.

This changes the balance and responsibility of the Legislature and the political parties.

“Proposed legislation would direct more political money to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Legislature and reduce the clout of the Democratic and Republican parties and independent campaign committees.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, a South San Francisco Democrat, wants to blunt outside groups’ power while “strengthening the hand” of legislative leaders and “making it easier for the public to track sources and destinations of contributions.”

To do that, he would create four new campaign accounts, to be controlled by Democratic and Republican leaders of each house.

Like political parties, the four would be able to raise up to $36,500 in individual donations. That’s far more than the $4,400 the leaders can raise now in a single contribution.”

I am a supporter of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  As long as donations are accurately and timely reported, people should be allowed to donate what they want, to whom they want, under the law.

The Sacramento Bee, reported this, “Supporters of the bill point out that outside interests are already allowed to give $36,500 in contributions per year to every county-level Republican and Democratic political party in California, as well as the state parties, but typically do not. Mullin said he expects the bill will simply slice up the fundraising pie differently, instead of inserting more corporate money into state politics.

Under current practice in California, county party committees funnel money to the state party. The state party hands out contributions to candidates that receive its endorsements. If the party fails to endorse a candidate in the race, it does not spend money on that seat.”

That means the Caucuses would be able to financially assist candidates in the primary.  Importance?  This marginalizes Prop. 14—the top two.  The June, 2018 primary showed Progressives tearing apart the Democrat Party.  Their chance to win the Congressman Knight seat was killed when a Progressive, radical to the Left of Sanders, became the “Democrat” to challenge Knight.

As both the Bee and Dan Morain note, this lessens the power of the political parties in California.  This is a major game changer for California politics. It has to be passed when the Legislature comes back in August—it passed the Senate Committee with a 4-0 vote.  If passed, as expected, it will be as important a change is the rules of the game and the power of the Sacramento players since passage of Prop. 14 ended partisan primaries.

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Seeking to alter the balance of campaign power

Dan Morain, Whats Matters,  7/11/18

Proposed legislation would direct more political money to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Legislature and reduce the clout of the Democratic and Republican parties and independent campaign committees.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, a South San Francisco Democrat, wants to blunt outside groups’ power while “strengthening the hand” of legislative leaders and “making it easier for the public to track sources and destinations of contributions.”

To do that, he would create four new campaign accounts, to be controlled by Democratic and Republican leaders of each house.

Like political parties, the four would be able to raise up to $36,500 in individual donations. That’s far more than the $4,400 the leaders can raise now in a single contribution.

Mullin, an advocate of greater disclosure, also would increase the frequency of public campaign reporting. Two of the four legislative leaders have endorsed the bill; a third supports the concept.

As it is: Independent campaigns and party committees raise huge sums and transfer and spend it in ways that can obscure the source of donors.

Implications: Assembly and Senate leaders have life or death power over all bills. Interest groups seeking legislation probably would feel obliged to donate to them. With more money, leaders could more readily consolidate power and select and fund candidates who would win seats and be loyal legislators.

The impact: Unclear. The change could increase overall spending in a system awash in money. Or political parties and independent campaign committees’ power could wain as big donors direct more money to caucus leaders.

 

More campaign money could flow to California legislative leaders under new bill

A look inside the murky process of campaign contributions and the impact of anonymous donations on the political system.

By Taryn Luna, Sacramento Bee, 7/11/18

Special interests could put more money directly into the hands of California legislative leaders, giving them greater influence over campaigns, under a bill unveiled last week as lawmakers left Sacramento for summer recess.

Legislators also added provisions to the bill to require political parties to file more frequent and timely campaign finance reports with the state. They describe Assembly Bill 84 as a measure that increases transparency.

“The real strength of the bill is that we added a disclosure that doesn’t exist right now,” said Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, a South San Francisco Democrat who introduced the bill. “I do think it does strengthen leadership’s hand in getting good people elected and keeping them elected.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.