EDITORIAL: Following the money trail (Stockton Record)

December 05, 2012

Proposed laws aim at bring transparency to political campaigns

Before freshmen lawmakers were sworn in, two legislative veterans introduced bills aimed at requiring greater disclosure of political contributions.

Democratic Sens. Ted Lieu of Torrance and Leland Yee of San Francisco on Monday introduced SB 2 and 3 in response to what the state Fair Political Practices Commission calls $11 million in money laundering by out-of-state interests pushing one California ballot proposition and opposing another in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

Current law requires the disclosure of donors only when the money is given to a nonprofit for the purpose of becoming a campaign contribution.

The bills, still being finalized, will aim also to increase disclosure of mass mailings and hike fines for failing to file required information about campaign contributions.

Campaigns and elections should be fully transparent.

Money being used by candidates and special interests trying to influence elections should be known as the funds flow in - be they from individuals, unions, corporations or nonprofits - not weeks or months after the fact, if ever.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in its misguided 2010 Citizens United decision that corporations and unions have free speech rights in the political process.

Fine, then by extension, the people have a right to know exactly who's doing the talking.