“California politicians raising money for charity face new rules from ethics panel”

Cal Matters:

After more than 18 months of deliberation, California’s political ethics regulators voted today to approve new rules when elected officials raise money for charities that they or their family control.

More public disclosure of their ties to the group getting the payments? Yes.

Limits on money from interest groups that lobby the officials? Not at all.     

The new rules fall far short of what government watchdogs say is necessary to rein in the growing trend of charitable donations serving as a conduit for interest groups that seek to influence politicians. Stronger rules would need legislative approval, and lawmakers made clear they’re not interested.     

The new rules on so-called “behested payments” were crafted by the Fair Political Practices Commission following a CalMatters investigation that showed how politicians increasingly use charitable organizations to raise and spend money outside the limits of the state’s strict campaign finance laws. 

The CalMatters report revealed that a dozen nonprofits run by state lawmakers and their staffs reported raising nearly $3 million in 2019 from interest groups that lobby the Legislature; that a nonprofit tied to the Legislature’s technology caucus was keeping its donations secret; and that a lawmaker — now Attorney General Rob Bonta — routinely asked interest groups to donate to his personal foundation as well as to nonprofits that employed his wife Mia Bonta, who is now an assemblymember.

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