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California Common Cause Brings Sunshine in Campaigns Act to Light

by Henry Flatt, published


California Common Cause (CCC), a public interest state advocacy group, has worked in California on a broad range of policy issues related to government transparency and accountability for multiple decades.

As a nonpartisan organization, CCC does not need to appease constituents from a specific party. This freedom has helped CCC to advocate for the Sunshine in Campaigns Act, Senate Bills 2, 3 and 27. The three bills are designed primarily to reveal the untraceable money that enters California politics without disclosure.

SB 2 aims to increase transparency by forcing campaigns to record “quarterly statements, monthly statements, preelection statements, postelection statements, and cumulative statements for filing,” as well as “increase the fines for improperly reporting laundered or earmarked contributions.”

The second part of the Sunshine in Campaigns Act is SB 3. It would create an online database for campaign contributions, as an improvement to the current Cal-ACCESS disclosure portal which attracted some criticism earlier this year. Courses in campaign finance law for all campaign treasures would also be required to ensure elections are conducted legally.

Lastly, SB 27 would close a loophole where citizens can contribute millions of dollars to a campaign while maintaining anonymity.

CCC policy advocate Phillip Ung described the support of Sunshine in Campaign Acts as a example of the coalition’s goal of greater transparency in electoral campaigns:

“[The] Goal is to shine more light on electoral campaigns, especially on the money in politics part of it… Each one of these bills does a separate piece to get to that goal.”

He added that these bills were “complementary,” while also being “stand-alone bills.”

With the most polarized political atmosphere in the nation, CCC acts as an important bridge between differing factions by promoting reforms like campaign finance disclosure, tighter ethics standards, and updates to California’s outdated online disclosure databases.

California Common Cause’s mission of advocating for transparency and ethics in government are integral to democracy. By shining light on the practices of the most esteemed members of our society — the lawmakers — policy can be directed towards the public interest.

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