The California Fair Political Practices Commission has settled a lawsuit dating from 2005, stipulating that the Commission acted beyond its statutory authority in regards to regulations capping the amount of individual donations to ballot measure committees that are controlled by candidates for elective state office. According to an FPPC press release:

In the stipulation, the FPPC and plaintiffs agreed to accept the court’s decision that the commission does not have proper statutory authority to determine and enforce contribution limits for state candidate-controlled ballot-measure committees. It was also agreed that the commission will no longer administer or enforce the regulation in question, and plaintiffs will not recover fees incurred during the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was first filed in February 2005, and challenged a regulation adopted by the commission in June 2004, which limited state candidate-controlled ballot-measure committee contributions to the same amount applied to the candidates themselves-currently up to $24,100 for the Governor. The FPPC appealed the Superior Court’s ruling in April 2005, and the Court of Appeal upheld that ruling in December 2006.

A legislative remedy, AB 709 introduced by Lois Wolk (D-Davis) in 2005, failed on a 45-31 vote despite the strong support of California Democratic legislators, California Common Cause and the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been criticized for his use of ballot-measure committees in his fundraising.

Proposition 89 on last November’s ballot provided for public funding of campaigns at the discretion of the candidate, and included limits on the amount of individual donations to ballot measure committees. It was decisively rejected by the state’s voters.

[cehwiedel also writes at cehwiedel.com.]

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