Tag: California Fair Political Practices Commission

The California Flap: February 8, 2013



The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • California Ballot Prop Would Force State Takeover of Utilities – Activist Ben Davis, Jr., who led the 1980s initiative campaign to close the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant near Sacramento, now has an even more ambitious initiative project in the works. The measure, which was cleared for signature-gathering Monday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, would abolish the state’s investor-owned power companies — including Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and replace them with the publicly owned “California Electrical Utility District.” The measure must gain 504,760 voter signatures by July 1 to qualify for the ballot.
  • Environmental groups, unions team up to oppose CEQA push – The battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California’s environmental review laws. More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. Members pledged to fight “radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections.” The group, CEQA Works, includes the California League of Conservation Voters, Planning and Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food & Commercial Workers and the League of Women Voters of California.
  • The Pension Fund That Ate California – CalPERS’s advocacy for higher benefits and its poor investment performance in recent years have locked in long-term debt in California and driven up costs, problems for which there are no easy solutions. As former Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane, a California Democrat, has said of the fund’s managers and board: “They are desperate to keep truths hidden.”
  • Budget analyst warns that Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads – Los Angeles’ top budget analyst warned that the city could lose 500 cops and be forced to close jails, cut the Fire Department and make other public-safety cuts if a proposed half-percent sales tax doesn’t pass on March 5. Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wrote in a detailed report released Thursday. Although the city has made significant budget savings in recent years, without new money, the city could have to reverse hard-fought police staffing gains. Santana’s report comes as voters consider the Measure A half-percent sales tax increase on the ballot and as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares his final budget for 2013-14. “While we are starting to see the `light of the end of the tunnel,’ the security provided by this optimistic picture is still very fragile and not an accurate reflection of the structural problems that the city is facing,” Santana said.
  • Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton visit Monterey Peninsula – Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited Monterey for a couple of hours Thursday for a private event. Their visit was not part of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, said the golf tournament’s director. A Monterey official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the presidents were speaking to AT&T employees, and the company’s clients, about business-related issues. The presidents went from Monterey Regional Airport to Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa on Cannery Row before 5 p.m. They left the hotel within minutes of each other about 7:15 p.m., each of them waving to a crowd of about 20 people. Aaron Braasch, 6, a student at Lincoln Elementary School in Salinas, was with his parents when they saw the presidents leave the hotel. He said he would tell his teachers about it Friday. His parents, Debbie and John, said they were happy their son got to see a piece of history.
  • California Democrats to push 10-bill package on gun control in Senate – State Senate Democrats on Thursday finalized a package of 10 gun-control bills they will pursue this year, and received backing for the measures from the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Among the bills, Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) called for outlawing possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. The sale of such magazines had been banned, but Hancock said some possessors of the clips have been able to escape prosecution by claiming they were purchased before the law was changed. Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed a ban on the future sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. “The truth of the matter is that we can save many lives by curbing the proliferation of rapid-fire weapons,” Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. “We can save lives by getting guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.”
  • CalPERS projects $200 million state rate hike – Annual state pension payments to CalPERS are expected to increase $200 million to a total of $4 billion in July. But the rate may go higher as the powerful pension board takes a new look at its risks and policies. The nation’s largest public pension fund last week gave a joint legislative committee an update on its funding status and plans for the future, as required by recent legislation. “For the year 2012-13 our state contribution rate was $3.8 billion,” Anne Stausboll, CalPERS chief executive officer, told legislators. “That is projected to be $4 billion in the coming fiscal year. That rate will be finalized in May, and we have a very open process leading up to that.” The giant pension fund covers 1,576 local governments and non-teaching employees in 1,488 school districts, but the annual payment for state workers draws the most attention.
  • California’s Baby Boomers on Track to Overwhelm State’s Younger Working Adults – USC’ Dowell Myers says The Day of Demographic Reckoning has come upon us. We share his thoughts because he’s the lead researcher on a recently released report from the University of Southern California and the Lucile Packard Foundation, “California’s Diminishing Resource: Children.” Myers and his team analyzed data from the 2010 census and the American Community Survey to conclude that we’re coming up on a rather large problem, economically speaking. “It’s been sneaking up on us gradually, and it has finally arrived,” Myers told The California Report. “The oldest Baby Boomer turned 65 last year, and now 18 years of Baby Boomers are going to cross that line.”
  • Judge seeks California’s out-of-state prison plan – Gov. Jerry Brown must explain to a federal court by the end of Wednesday how he plans to fit 9,000 inmates currently housed in out-of-state facilities back into California lockups. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton directed California to explain in writing its exact plan to stop sending inmates to private prisons as far as Mississippi. The administration announced its intention to return the inmates months ago, at the same time it also seeks an end to court-ordered prison population caps. Karlton’s order requires California to stipulate the total number of inmates the state plans to return to California prisons from out-of-state facilities, the planned timetable for their return, and where the state plans to house those inmates. As of Jan. 30, according to state prison population reports, California had 8,852 inmates in four prisons run by Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America.
  • Ann Ravel: In pursuit of transparency – Ann Ravel, California’s political watchdog, captured public attention in November when she squared off against an obscure but well-heeled group calling itself Americans for Social Responsibility. The Arizona-based nonprofit poured $11 million at the 11th hour into the California campaign opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30. On the eve of the election, the group admitted it was an intermediary and not the true source of the contribution as Ravel, the chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, demanded disclosure. “We will continue in this matter and all others to ensure that the people of California know who is funding political activity in this State,” she noted.

California Now Allowing Text Message Political Contributions


I foresee some massive fraud problems here, but I suppose it is keeping up with the times.

Political donors are now free to contribute to their favorite California candidates via text message, says the Fair Political Practices Commission.

California is the first state in the nation to allow political contributions through what is becoming a popular method of donating to charities and disaster relief effort. (Heaven knows, a lot of our candidates need disaster relief!)

Here’s what the FPPC has to say on the subject:

California is the first state to allow campaign contributions by text message. The rules approved by the Commission in October are now in effect. The main goal is to broaden voter participation by offering a mechanism to include citizens in the political process who normally do not participate in campaigns and elections, particularly the younger generation.

It is now up to the wireless carriers and campaigns to implement systems that permit contributions by text message. The concept is similar to texting a donation to a disaster relief fund or a charity. A person can simply send a text message to donate to his or her favorite candidate or cause. The donation amount would be included in the donor’s monthly phone bill and when the bill is paid, the campaign would get the contribution.

If there is money to be had, the POLS for sure will try to access it.

Good luck with the record keeping and the disclosure though.


California OKs Political Donations Via Text Message


Can approving online poker be far behind? Well, next year maybe.

California became the first state Thursday to allow people to make political campaign contributions via text messages.

“We have an obligation to bring more people into our democratic process,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which approved the change in a 3-to-0 vote. “This is one small step we are taking to allow this to happen and to allow people who can’t go to big fundraisers that are $1,000 a head or more to participate.”

“It’s now up to the industry to implement this and we realize it will take some time before that happens,” she said.

But the wireless industry was not happy with the new regulation, which places no limits on the amount of money a person can contribute via text message.

“We have an obligation to bring more people into our democratic process,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which approved the change in a 3-to-0 vote. “This is one small step we are taking to allow this to happen and to allow people who can’t go to big fundraisers that are $1,000 a head or more to participate.”

“It’s now up to the industry to implement this and we realize it will take some time before that happens,” she said.

But the wireless industry was not happy with the new regulation, which places no limits on the amount of money a person can contribute via text message.

“When we looked at the FEC’s reasoning, we realized we could do it and it was permissible under our laws,” Ravel said in an interview after the meeting.

In its discussion with the California commission, CTIA raised technical and practical concerns.

Specifically, the carriers said it could be a challenge to meet requirements of state and federal election laws, such as providing identifying information about a donor and making sure that donors are not foreign nationals, who are prohibited from making campaign contributions.

California election officials acknowledged there could be logistical problems but emphasized that it is optional for wireless companies to offer text messaging of campaign donations.

While it may be awhile for carriers to offer the service, “campaigns may be ready,” said Ravel. “We talked to some.”

I can see an entire system of abuse here, including foreign nationals gaming the system.

If the amount of money given in this way was limited to say $100 or so,then I think it will meet the intent on soliciting small contributions from many donors. Otherwise, the system will be abused/gamed by the campaigns and there will be rampant corruption.