California Fair Political Practices Commission Urged to Adopt Proposed “Coordination” Regulations


Today in Sacramento, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel Paul S. Ryan will offer testimony urging the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to adopt proposed amendments to the state’s regulation on “Independent versus Coordinated Expenditures” and to further strengthen the regulation in a number of ways.

“The FPPC’s proposed rule changes would directly address one of the biggest money-in-politics problems we face today—blatant coordination between so-called ‘independent’ groups and the candidates they support,” said Ryan.  “The Supreme Court in Citizens United unleashed a flood of unlimited money in our elections, while promising the money wouldn’t corrupt candidates because it’d be independent of candidates.  The new FPPC coordination rule will help deliver on the Court’s promise and protect against corruption by maintaining the integrity of California’s candidate contribution limits.”

In written comments filed on Tuesday, the CLC expressed general support for an earlier draft of the proposed rules, but urged the FPPC to expand their scope beyond “express advocacy” ads, to also include sham “issue” ads about candidates and coordinated with candidates.  A draft of the proposed rule issued late Wednesday addresses this concern.  In live testimony today, Ryan will urge the FPPC to further strengthen the new rule by clarifying that “coordination” restrictions—particularly those regarding fundraising for super PACs and other “independent” groups—apply to individuals claiming to be in a “pre-candidacy” stage, who then become declared candidates.  This extension of the rule is necessary to prevent blatant abuses we have seen on the federal level by 2016 presidential hopefuls who delayed officially announcing their candidacies in order to raise tens of millions of dollars for super PACs solely dedicated to their election.

The FPPC’s proposed rule modifications would define as coordination situations where candidates solicit for the outside groups, where former staffers or family members occupy senior positions with the groups or when candidates or committees share common consultants with the outside groups.  CLC’s written comments emphasize that the FPPC’s proposed rule changes, as well as those offered by the Legal Center, reflect sound public policy and are clearly constitutional.

“While federal campaign finance regulators at the FEC stand idly by, permitting rampant abuses of law that will undoubtedly lead to scandals and corruption, the FPPC is showing the leadership that Californians expect and deserve,” Ryan said.

To read the comments filed by the Legal Center, click here