A judge from the Sacramento Superior Court tentatively ruled Tuesday that the California's campaign finance watchdog agency could investigate an Arizona Political Action Committee's (PAC) $11 million donation.
Judge Shellyanne Chang said that citizens of California would suffer "irreparable harm" if contributions to Americans for Responsible Leadership were not investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), according to The San Jose Mercury News. The small business PAC has run campaigns against two propositions on the state's ballot, Proposition 30, a tax-hike proposal, and Proposition 32, which would stop unions from collecting dues for political purposes.
Judge Chang will oversee a hearing on the matter Wednesday before she makes her final decision.
California Gov. Jerry Brown praised the tentative ruling, telling the Associated Press that "This is the biggest campaign violation ever since the FPPC became operative in 1975, and it is heartening that the FPPC is going to court."
"We believe that the state has not proven its case and that the FPPC does not have the authority to issue an audit in advance of the election," said Americans for Responsible Leadership spokesman Matt Ross in a statement. "Depending upon tomorrow's final outcome, there is a high likelihood that Americans for Responsible Leadership will appeal."
Although 501(c)(4) groups are not required to disclose their donors under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) codes, California requires disclosure, and Gov. Brown has been campaigning hard to have PACs operating in the state to follow those rules. The pressure for Americans for Responsible Leadership to reveal its donations increased after the group received the $11 million meant to help it fight the two ballot propositions.
You can read the full story in The San Jose Mercury News.