Fair Political Practices Commission Reviewing Legality of Bustamante’s Campaign Donations
The Fair Political Practices Commission on Tuesday said it is investigating whether gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D)violated state campaign finance laws by accepting donations -- most of which he has transferred to a committee opposing Proposition 54 -- to an old campaign committee, Reuters reports (Tanner, Reuters, 9/16). The FPPC on Tuesday also filed a 12-page letter on the matter for a lawsuit filed by Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine) that will be heard Thursday by Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster in Sacramento (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 9/17). Bustamante acquired millions of dollars in funds through six- and seven-figure donations from American Indian tribes and labor unions. While current campaign finance law limits campaign contributions to $21,200, Bustamante was able to receive the funds through his old lieutenant governor campaign committee because it was set up before the law's implementation. Earlier this month, Bustamante announced he would contribute $3.8 million of the funds to a committee to defeat Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, which would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 9/10). The funds transferred to the committee to oppose Proposition 54 have been used to pay for television ads featuring Bustamante. Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said, "My interpretation is that when he is spending the money appearing in the ads, he is violating the provision" (Reuters, 9/16). The commission said that it has not fully analyzed Bustamante's donations since it "simply has not had an opportunity to evaluate and opine on the complex legal issues" (Los Angeles Times, 9/17).
Summaries of additional coverage of Proposition 54 are provided below.
California State University's Committee on Governmental Relations on Tuesday voted 6-0 to oppose Proposition 54, in part because the panel said it "could harm outreach efforts and undermine research," the Los Angeles Times reports. The full board was expected to ratify the action Wednesday (Los Angeles Times, 9/17).
- Appearing with Gov. Gray Davis (D) in San Francisco, the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Tuesday told a crowd of 350 to 400 mostly black activists and residents to oppose Proposition 54 and the recall, the Sacramento Bee reports. That same day, Bustamante began airing one ad opposing Proposition 54 and two others for his candidacy (Sample, Sacramento Bee, 9/17).
- Sacramento Superior Court Judge Thomas Cecil on Friday denied the FPPC's request for a preliminary injunction to force Proposition 54 supporter Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Coalition to disclose donors' names before the recall election, the Los Angeles Times reports. Cecil ruled that the FPPC could not sufficiently show that voters would suffer harm if they did not know the sources of $1.9 million in donations used to support Proposition 54 and added that greater harm might be inflicted by compelling disclosure because it would be an invasion of donors' privacy (Trounson, Los Angeles Times, 9/20).
- The Contra Costa Times on Sunday examined components of the debate over Proposition 54, including its implications for health research, education and law enforcement (Sturrock, Contra Costa Times, 9/21).
- "California Connected," a weekly, hour-long newsmagazine produced by PBS stations in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco that covers state events and issues, on Thursday aired a special edition focusing on the gubernatorial recall election and the "unintended consequences" of the recall movement, such as the inclusion of Proposition 54 on the ballot. The program's Web site includes excerpts from the official summary of Proposition 54 prepared by the Attorney General's Office and links related to Proposition 54 (Brancaccio, "California Connected," KCET, 9/18). Video excerpts of the program are available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show" today discussed why race is "playing such a prominent role" in the recall election, including Proposition 54. Guests on the program included Frank Gilliam, a professor of political science at UCLA and director of the university's Center for Communication and Community, and Joe Hicks, a supporter of Proposition 54 and co-founder of Community Advocates, a privately funded Los Angeles human relations organization (Smiley, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 9/22). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Summaries of opinion pieces addressing Proposition 54 are provided below.
- If Proposition 54 is approved, "blacks and other minorities would gain a precious racial invisibility that would only make us more visible as human beings," Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writes in a commentary in the Los Angeles Times (Steele, Los Angeles Times, 9/18).
- "There are times in which blindness to color can be unfair, unhealthy and even lethal," Troy Duster, chancellor's professor at the University of California-Berkeley and a senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. Proposition 54 would "prohibit some important research on the social forces that shape health outcomes" because under the initiative, state researchers would be unable to collect necessary data. The ballot measure would require people "to be 'colorblind' unless and until we have 'medical reasons' to do otherwise. Yet by the time the subjects become medical patients ... it is too late to determine the array of forces that help explain the etiology ... of the condition," he concludes (Duster, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19).
- "[E]liminating the collection of racial data will not eliminate racial prejudice, will not eliminate intolerance, will not eliminate ignorance and the hate and fear that it spawns," columnist Ed Diokno writes about Proposition 54 in the Contra Costa Times. Racial data remains necessary to determine the health needs of particular ethnic groups, measure progress in race relations and keep track of minority school enrollment, he continues. "We need the data, the statistics and the context to make informed decisions because, you see, race still matters," Diokno concludes (Diokno, Contra Costa Times, 9/21).
Additional Proposition 54 coverage is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.