Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Gov. Brown tries to unmask out-of-state opposition to Prop 30

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Governor Jerry Brown plans to hit four cities up and down the state Tuesday in an effort to boost voter support for his Proposition 30 tax initiative. He’s turning up the volume on the heels of the No on Prop 30 camp taking in an $11-million donation from a group in Arizona.

The contribution came from Americans for Responsible Leadership, described on its website as an organization that seeks to “advance government accountability, transparency, ethics, and related public policy issues.”   

The Arizona group donated $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee, which is working to defeat Prop 30 and to pass Prop 32, the proposed ban on payroll deductions for political donations. Committee spokeswoman Beth Miller says there’s “nothing untoward” about the donation. 

"We don’t know who contributed to Americans for Responsible Leadership," Miller said. "What we do know is that they are a bonafide organization."

Governor Brown doesn’t buy that logic, saying: "It’s completely clear that the No on 30 committee has some knowledge of who these people are. They didn’t just pick an envelope out of their mailbox with $11 million in it."

California Watch has reported that Americans for Responsible Leadership is headed by three businessmen, including Robert Graham, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in Arizona's 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary and is a current candidate for chairman of the state's Republican Party.

Bob Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies, says the $11 million donation is the biggest undisclosed political contribution he’s ever seen.

"My assumption is it’s people in California giving to a group in Arizona so they think they can avoid disclosure," Stern said.

Stern believes Californians will find out who the donors are — he’s just not sure whether it will be before or after the election.

The watchdog group California Common Cause has asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate the Arizona donation. The head of the non-partisan commission says they’ll decide whether do so by the end of the week.


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