Monday, November 5, 2012

Ariz. Group Ordered To Release Donation Records (UPDATED)

Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.)
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has reported that Americans for Responsible Leadership has released the names of its contributors. The release identified the nonprofit Americans for Job Security as the organization behind the $11-million donation. That money was then passed to Center to Protect Patients Rights to ARL.


The California Supreme Court ruled Sunday that a Phoenix, Ariz.-based Political Action Committee (PAC) had to release its donation records to state records.

The state's highest court made the 7-0 ruling on a rare Sunday conference call, ordering Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL) turn over records relating to an $11-million donation to a business campaign that opposed two propositions by Gov. Jerry Brown. The court ruled that ARL had to submit the records to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) an hour after their ruling, according to The Sacramento Bee.

As of this writing, however, ARL has yet to submit the records, having already unsuccessfully attempted to get the court to extend the deadline to 9 a.m. local time today. Matt Ross, a spokesman for ARL's legal time, said in a written statement to The Sacramento Bee that "While we are working to deliver the records, we still believe that the FPPC does not have the authority to take such action and have filed a request for immediate stay with the United States Supreme Court."

That letter was sent to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the controversial Citizens United case, which focused on campaign spending by corporations and nonprofits. In the letter, attorney Thad A. Davis wrote that the FPPC was unfairly targeting ARL because it was targeting Brown's initiatives.

For its part, the FPPC wants to review the donations records to determine whether ARL violated state rules that require nonprofits to disclose the names of its donors if their money was earmarked for a specific initiative. Depending on when they receive the records from the group, it remains to be seen whether the FPPC has enough time to make ARL disclose the names of its donors if a violation is found.

The NonProfit Times blog first reported on this story last week when a judge from the Sacramento Superior Court ruled that the FPPC could investigate ARL's donation records. That decision was eventually appealed to the California Supreme Court.

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