Lobbyists and Special Interests Promise Contribution Before Session Ends, But Don't Pay -- And Pols Don't Disclose -- Until After Session Ends
Santa Monica, CA -- The state's political ethics watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), should close a loophole that allows politicians to conceal contributions from special interests and lobbyists in the final days of the legislative session, when the fate of hundreds of bills is on the line, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today. The Orange County Register reports today that at least 14 lawmakers have held fundraisers yet reported no donations after August 9, 2006 when contributions to politicians were required to be disclosed within one day. Rather than writing checks to the politician hosting the fundraiser, the donors instead pledge to contribute later, exploiting an FPPC loophole that exempts such pledges from disclosure.
"Allowing politicians to conceal donations from special interests while deciding the fate of more than 1,500 proposed laws is convenient for lobbyists and lawmakers alike," wrote Douglas Heller and Judy Dugan of the nonpartisan, nonprofit FTCR in a letter to the FPPC today. "But it leaves the public in the dark about one of the most despicable and corrupting traditions in Sacramento: fundraising while legislating."
The letter can be downloaded at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/FPPC083006.pdf.
The consumer group, which is supporting Proposition 89 on the November ballot to stop political corruption, asked the FPPC to rewrite its regulations to remove the exemption that creates the contribution pledge loophole. FTCR said that allowing the lobbyists and special interests to make undisclosed pledges to politicians adds a new layer of potential corruption in the Capitol.
"The lobbyist is dangling money in front of a lawmaker while withholding the contribution until after the key legislative decisions are made. At the same time, the public knows nothing of this pressure to vote a certain way. The pledge loophole makes the conflict inherent in fundraising while legislating even more pernicious," concluded FTCR.
FTCR has protested the extraordinary number of fundraisers occurring in the final weeks of August this year. At http://www.Channel89.org the group is presenting video reports from Sacramento about the fundraising blitz and the efforts by politicians and special interests to hide their fundraising activities from public scrutiny.