June 18, 2014

Our View: SB 1101 would be a minor campaign finance fix

Legislation would limit fundraising, but only a little.

As campaign finance measures go, Senate Bill 1101 is no blockbuster.

The California Senate responded to corruption indictments against two of its own and the conviction of a third senator by approving legislation earlier this week banning candidates and officeholders from soliciting or accepting campaign money for one month leading up to the ends of legislative sessions and one month before votes on state budgets.

If the Assembly approves the bill and Gov. Jerry Brown signs it into law, officeholders could not wedge fundraisers in between considering the budget, and voting on hundreds of bills they’re supposed to be reading at the ends of sessions.

“With today’s vote, we are one step closer to improving the public’s confidence in state government,” the bill’s author, Sen. Alex Padilla, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, said in a statement after the Senate approved the bill.

Padilla’s bill would be an advance. But don’t kid yourself; this bill will hardly clean up this town.

Donors simply would delay giving by a few days or weeks. Although officeholders and challengers couldn’t hold fundraisers during blackout periods, Democratic or Republican parties probably still could hold fundraisers, depending on how the measure ultimately is interpreted.

SB 1101 gives a nod to the need to reform fundraising; that’s worthwhile. But it’s less a milestone than it is an inch-stone.

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