California watchdog lifts recall contribution limits
Jul. 28, 2017
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's political watchdog on Thursday moving toward rescinding contribution limits for recall campaigns as a Democratic senator faces removal from office.
The Fair Political Practices Commission voted 3-1 to disregard advice from its own lawyers and adopt the position requested by a lawyer for Senate Democrats.
The commission has long held that politicians can only contribute $4,400 from their campaign account to help lawmakers facing a recall. The decision to lift the restriction, allowing unlimited transfers, could help Democratic Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton as he fights a potential recall.
That matches the rule for individual contributors to recall campaigns, who can give without limit, but deviates from the commission's previous guidance and the legal interpretation that its lawyers offered.
The change is still subject to a final vote at the commission's meeting next month.
California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte blasted the decision, saying the commission is supposed to be nonpartisan but "has exposed itself as a partisan tool of the Democrats."
"This is another step in the continued decline of the integrity of California's elections," Brulte said in a statement. "It is one more example of absolute power corrupting absolutely."
Commissioners must come from both parties but they are appointed by various statewide elected officials, all of whom are currently Democrats.
"The goal of the commission and the mission of the commission is to be as independent, as nonpartisan as it was designed to be, and we will continue to try to strive to meet that mission," said Jay Wierenga, a spokesman for the commission.
A lawyer for the Senate Democrats contends that the Office Legislative Counsel