Major Victory over Dark Money as SB 27 Passes Assembly Floor

By Press Release
California Clean Money Campaign, February 18th, 2014

Bill requiring non-profits to reveal their secret donors when they spend $50,000 on California elections passes Assembly floor on overwhelming vote of 58-18.

SACRAMENTO - SB 27, a bill that requires greater transparency from non-profit organizations that spend significant amounts on California campaigns, passed the full Assembly today in an overwhelming and bipartisan 58-18 vote for increased disclosure.

The fact that out-of-state non-profit organizations were able to funnel $11 million into California races in the final days of the 2012 election without revealing their donors illustrated the need to strengthen California's disclosure laws. The Fair Political Practices Commission imposed a record $1 million fine, but current law does not require all the original funders to be revealed. SB 27 will prevent such secretive spending in future races beginning in this November's election.

"It should not require last-minute Supreme Court rulings or year-long FPPC investigations for voters to learn the names of major funders of California campaigns," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "Voters deserve to know who's trying to influence their votes."

SB 27, authored by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and sponsored by the Fair Political Practices Commission, addresses the problem by requiring non-profits that spend $50,000 or more in California races to become a formal campaign committee and report the contributors that make up their campaign expenditures. Those contributions then would be available for the public to see on the Secretary of State website. It has reasonable protections for real non-profits and donors whose money is not used for campaign purposes.

"If you're going to give money to a nonprofit and you know it's going to be used for campaign purposes, just disclose it," Correa said after the vote. "It's a very simple concept, which is that people need to know who is supporting what causes or which candidates."

Nearly 20,000 Californians signed petitions urging the Assembly to pass SB 27. It has support not only from good government groups in California like the California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters of California, but also national organizations like Courage Campaign, Maplight, the Money Out Voters In Coalition, Progressives United, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and the Sunlight Foundation.

"Passing SB 27 is crucial to closing the loopholes that let billionaires and other special interests hide behind secretive non-profits. We're grateful to Senator Correa for his leadership," said Lange. "Now, the Assembly must take the next and equally important step of passing SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act, so that political ads must use the information unveiled by SB 27 to show who really pays for them."

SB 27 achieved the required 2/3 majority with four votes to spare, as all 55 Democratic Assemblymembers voted Yes, joined by Republican Assemblymembers Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo), Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), and Kirsten Olsen (R-Riverbank). SB 27 now moves back to the Senate so it can vote to concur with the amendments made in the Assembly, before moving on to the Governor's desk. If signed, it will take effect on July 1st.

AB 800, authored by Assemblymember Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), a bill that strengthens the ability of the FPPC to audit campaign spending, also passed its hurdle in the Senate today.

SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act, authored by Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, passed the Senate in 2013 and will have its votes in the Assembly later this year. Senator Correa is also a Principal Coauthor of SB 52, along with Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Assembly Elections Committee Chair Paul Fong (D-Mountain View). Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) recently endorsed SB 52.


The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001.e For further information, visit

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