California: Hollywood, Beaches, and Lots of Political Sunshine
Written by Phillip Ung
Last year I wrote a blog about being the “new guy” on staff and how Common Cause can give regular people an opportunity to turn political cynicism into energy to reform your government.
And as we come to the end of 2012, I’m happy to report that millions of Californians turned cynicism into grassroots momentum that helped push reform in California and improve our governance.
Let’s start with our biggest victory: exposing the dark money players behind the $11 million mysterious contribution from an obscure Arizona non-profit, Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL). California Common Cause was the leading watchdog that dug up the connections ARL had with the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, and a network of right-wing activists who were determined to funnel money through Citizens United loopholes. Eventually, the public was informed that the true source of the anonymous funds were two more layers of non-profits.
Even as state officials continue to investigate these entities, our work on this issue showed policymakers across the country and in our nation’s capital that strong disclosure laws can expose the worst activities that occur in the post-Citizens United environment. Look out for Common Cause-sponsored disclosure legislation that will keep California at the forefront of political sunshine.
Other successes include:
- Defeat of pro-corporation Proposition 32 that masqueraded as campaign finance reform.
- Enactment of Election Day Voter Registration, AB 1436, that California Common Cause will work to implement by 2016.
- Implementation of Online Voter Registration. This innovative system was made possible by California Common Cause’s leadership and sponsorship of legislation in 2011. The Online Voter Registration led to a record 800,000 voter registrations with millions more over the coming years.
- Earning bipartisan support for SB 1001 which raised registration fees on state lobbyists and political action committees to pay for repairs and upgrades to the state’s aging campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure system.
- California pushed back against Citizens United by passing a state resolution, AJR 22 that urged Congress to send a constitutional amendment to the states to overturn this horrible decision by the Supreme Court. The major cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, Richmond, Los Angeles, and San Diego all joined the movement by passing their own resolutions.
This is only a small portion of the victories, large and small, that I am highlighting. As you can see there is plenty to be proud of in 2012. You can track all of our victories by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribing to our YouTube channel.
I end 2012 the same way I ended 2011…
Our victories this year, and every year wouldnt be possible without your generous support. Make a tax-deductible year-end donation to Common Cause today we’ll send you a free DVD of Bill Moyers’ new documentary “THE UNITED STATES OF ALEC” as our thanks to you.