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Arizona non-profit appeals ruling on $11 million donation, delays audit

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The Arizona group that donated $11 million to a campaign involved with two propositions on California's ballot appealed a court order to comply with a state audit Thursday. 

The Fair Political Practices Commission, California’s elections watchdog, wants to know the source of the donation before election day. But the appeal makes that disclosure less likely.

Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership donated the money to a campaign against Prop 30, Governor Brown’s tax initiative, and in support of Prop 32, a ban on union payroll deductions for political contributions.  

The Arizona non-profit didn’t disclose who made the $11 million donation. The FPPC thinks the group may have violated California campaign finance disclosure laws

The FPPC has demanded to see all documents about the gift to determine if donors knew the money was earmarked for a specific campaign. If they knew, California law requires the donors' names be disclosed.

A Sacramento Superior Court Judge ordered Americans for Responsible Leadership to comply with the audit by 5 pm Thursday. Instead, the group appealed the decision to the 3rd District Court in Sacramento.  

“We disagree with the superior court’s ruling," said Matt Ross, a spokesman for Americans for Responsible Leadership’s legal team. "The FPPC does not have the authority to issue an audit in advance of the election and that is why we filed our appeal.” 

The FPPC and State Attorney General Kamala Harris countered with an emergency motion to the Appeals Court, asking that Americans for Responsible Leadership be forced to comply with the audit immediately.  Failing that, they've urged the court to expedite a hearing and ruling on the matter by Monday — election eve.