Washington, D.C. -- An article in the Sacramento Bee yesterday highlighted the abuses of candidate-controlled ballot measure committees that were the focus of the Center for Political Accountability's recent Taking Initiative report. Released last month, the report examined how the committees were used to evade campaign contribution and spending limits in California and the risks that ballot measure contributions posed to companies. The CPA is pressing companies to disclose and require board oversight of this and other political spending with corporate funds.  
The article, in the paper's January 15, 2008 issue, reported that "Ballot measure committees have become the latest tool used by state politicians to raise big money. Unhindered by donation limits, the checks can reach tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Written by Shane Goldmacher, the story quoted Russ Johnson, chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, as calling the committees "open-ended slush funds."
The paper said that the FPPC "will consider new rules to strengthen state laws governing how politicians can raise and spend money for ballot measures."
According to the article, "Assembly Speaker Karen Bass used hers to fund voter registration efforts to elect more Democrats. Former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata used his to bolster his legal defense fund. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his to pay for his political operation for the last two years." 
Reforms being considered by the commission include: 
---  All campaign expenditures, beyond the general upkeep of the PAC, must be tagged for   the particular ballot measure they are for or against.
---  If a specific measure does not yet exist, the account must include a brief description of the potential measure the spending is for.
---  Ballot committees controlled by politicians must identify the elected official in the name of the committee.

CPA executive director Bruce Freed praised the FPPC's efforts but noted that even if the reforms are instituted that they will not protect companies and shareholders. "The reforms are necessary but not sufficient.  Companies will still be able to circumvent contribution limitations by routing their money through candidate-controlled ballot committees. Companies themselves must take steps to insulate themselves from the pressure to contribute that the politicians who create these committees will put them under."
Following is a link to the article: http://www.politicalaccountability.net/index
Founded in November 2003, the CPA is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group that is leading a shareholder effort to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending. 
As of January 2009, 52 leading companies, including 35 in the S&P 100, have agreed to disclose and require board oversight of soft money contributions and payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations that are used for political purposes. The companies are listed on the CPA website.
Press Contact: Bruce Freed, CPA Executive Director, 301-233-3621,bffreed@politicalaccountability.net

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