Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, put forward Assembly Bill 914, a campaign finance change that's now under fire.

The Buzz: California campaign finance proposal worries watchdog groups

Published: Friday, Sep. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

A proposed California campaign finance reform law could backfire on good actors, according to watchdog organizations.

After out-of-state money poured into the 2012 election – most notably, $11 million from an Arizona nonprofit – the Fair Political Practices Commission has considered a slate of bills to fortify disclosure requirements.

But some nonprofits are concerned that one measure would penalize smaller entities that follow the rules.

Assembly Bill 914, by Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, on behalf of the FPPC, would introduce a form on which nonprofits spending $50,000 or more in an election cycle would list donors.

That could translate into costly, redundant and time-consuming paperwork, according to Phillip Ung of Common Cause's California branch.

That wouldn't be the case, says the FPPC's chief of enforcement. Gary Winuk noted nonprofits must track political spending to ensure they don't lose their tax-exempt status.

A recent amendment clarified that groups wouldn't need to file information they have already provided. But that hasn't mollified critics.

"They still didn't answer everyone's questions about who would get caught in this," Ung said.

– Jeremy B. White

AT THE CAPITOL

Back from a one-day hiatus for Rosh Hashanah, lawmakers return today for what are expected to be daylong sessions sorting through the mass of bills awaiting floor votes. Things get started at 10 a.m. for both the Senate and the Assembly and continue until about 6 p.m. Next week will be hectic: It's the last week of the legislative session.

– Jeremy B. White

WORTH REPEATING

"We can't expect schools to prepare for the future while they continue to use tests that are products of the past."

TOM TORLAKSON, state superintendent of public instruction, talking to reporters via teleconference about a legislative proposal to end the use of STAR tests in math and English for the current school year

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