Siding with California’s political money watchdog, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed legislation that would have extended lobbying disclosure requirements to people employed to help win state contracts.
Assembly Bill 1200 would have required people to register as lobbyists if they are paid to communicate with state officials about securing contracts. The measure pitted state lawmakers, who called it a needed source of transparency, against the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which would have had to enforce a law it called confusing and ineffective.
In past veto messages, Brown has rebuffed campaign finance proposals under the premise that they would create more paperwork without meaningful public benefit. The Democratic governor made a similar argument in his veto message for AB 1200.
“Given that the laws regulating state procurement are voluminous and already contain ample opportunities for public scrutiny,” Brown wrote, “I don’t believe this bill is necessary.”
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The author of the bill, Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, disagreed. He said that while there are “some protections” once the procurement process formally launches, his bill was needed to illuminate the lobbying that precedes that. He referenced the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection preparing to solicit bids for a new helicopter fleet.
“Has there been lobbying of Cal Fire over the last several years? Are there contacts going on now? We don’t know,” Gordon said. “I still continue to feel there is a black hole around lobbying on state contracts.”