By John Pinkney
Laws concerning transparency in California will once again require input from citizens. Providing information to the greater public about ethical behavior, lobbying, campaign finance and more has been affected steadily through amendments to the Political Reform Act (PRA) over the last 42 years. This has made for some meandering legal language that has made it nearly impossible for the layman to make sense of.
The Political Reform Act Review
Between December 5-30, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is inviting the public to assist in reviewing the second draft of the PRA and streamline it for effectiveness. This second review, aided by students from UC Berkeley and Davis, will be presented to the California legislature upon completion.
Making Better Sense of Corruption Through Sound Policy
State rules currently place anyone paid $2,000 or more a month to establish communication with a state politician on a registry as a lobbyist. All members of the FPPC agreed to this rule change in July of this year. It was in effort to shine a light on “shadow lobbying” and reveal those lobbying without having officially registered as one.
Emelyn Rodriguez, Senior Counsel for the FPPC, stated that while the organization hasn’t been able to keep up with practices from lobbyists that seek to skirt or outright subvert standing laws and rules, this decision is the first step in making sure all elected officials work in the interest of voters.
How Civilians Can Help
According to Jodi Remke, chair of the FPPC, technology is being employed to better give voters a voice in reporting ethical breaches in state government. With a new online complaint system ready to go, the FPPC hopes to get timelier accounting of the 2,000 complaints they receive on average per year. These include tips on officials hiding the source of donations, failure to file pertinent documentation, and even laundering money. And in an election year these complaints tend to swell.
How to Stay Informed
Voters wanting to remain informed on the progress of the review can maintain contact with a Coachella Valley government law firm to access regular updates as this legislation progresses.