California Professional Firefighters

No Taxpayer Dollars for Political Campaigns

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Bee gives SB 594 the Best Bad Review Ever -- Get the Latest

Are taxpayer dollars being used to pay for campaigns that work to protect redevelopment and cities’ right to take private property?

The League of California Cities and its allies are going to great lengths to keep the voters from finding out. And it’s at the heart of broad, bipartisan reform legislation.

SB 594 (Hill) opens the books on millions of campaign dollars paid out by so-called “non-public funds” from taxpayer-financed non-profits, like the League of California Cities. It also strengthens state law to ensure that public dollars are not being diverted into a secret campaign war chest.

Secret Donors … Hidden Profits?

Since 2003, more than $17 million of campaign money has been spent from “non-public funds” -- anonymous accounts run by taxpayer-financed non-profits.

No FPPC number … no donor reporting.

By itself, the League of California Cities has spent more than $12 million on politics from these hidden accounts, dwarfing their traditional reported spending.

Where’s the money coming from?

While these taxpayer-financed non-profits are spending millions on politics, the League and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) are also collecting millions in “marketing fees” from the sale of taxpayer-subsidized bonds sold by a bond agency they created – the California Statewide Community Development Authority (CSCDA).

The state of California considers these proceeds to be public funds. . But these semi-public agencies treat them as private profits, exempt from public scrutiny.

What are they trying to hide?

The symmetry between these “marketing fees” and the amount spent on campaigns is, let’s say, eerie.

The public deserves to know how its money is spent, and especially deserves to know if it’s being diverted into campaigns.

Senate Bill 594 shines light on the sources of these millions of anonymous dollars.

What it does
  • Holds taxpayer-financed non-profits to the same accountability standards as everyone else that participates in politics;
  • Strengthens the ban on use of public funds for political action;
  • Requires that taxpayer-financed non-profits publicly report where they’re getting the money for the anonymous non-public funds accounts;
  • Requires that the proceeds from sale of tax-free bonds be separated out from any campaign accounts and fully disclosed.
What it doesn’t do
  • Doesn’t affect traditional 501c3 non-profits (whose funds are derived from private donations);
  • Doesn’t restrict any organization’s ability to take positions on campaigns;
  • Doesn’t prevent anyone from participating in open, fully-reported campaigns
Who supports it?

Senator Hill’s measure is supported by an astonishing coalition spanning the political spectrum.

  • Good government groups, such as the California Clean Money Campaign.
  • Taxpayer advocates such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.
  • Labor groups, such as the California Labor Federation, the State Building Trades Assn. and California Professional Firefighters.

What they're saying about SB 594

Who opposes it?

Senator Hill’s measure is predictably opposed by the biggest spenders that stand the most to gain from protecting these hidden accounts: The League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties.

How you can help!

The League of California Cities is sending out a fusillade of misinformation about SB 594, mobilizing its army of city managers. We also believe they have intentionally misled some public safety organizations into believing they could be impacted.

We need you to help fight back!

Share this page with your friends and colleagues. Ask them to weigh in with a letter in support of SB 594

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