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California FPPC Proposes Rules Limiting Outside Groups' Influence On Campaigns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's political watchdog agency on Monday proposed tougher rules to prevent illegal coordination between political campaigns and outside groups that can collect unlimited amounts of money.

The Fair Political Practices Commission introduced proposed rules as it says independent expenditures have grown eight times higher than in 2002, to more than $80 million in California's 2014 election cycle.

"This makes our already tough regulations ever stronger so all candidates will be playing by the same rules and that some campaigns aren't able to gain unfair advantage by coordinating their efforts illegally," the commissions' chief enforcement officer, Galena West, said in a statement.

The proposal bans an independent committee from using the same political consultant as a candidate's campaign. It also bars the groups from being run by a former staffer for the candidate or being funded by a candidate's family member. And it prevents a candidate from showing up at a fundraiser for the outside group.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said the state's proposal might simply push more of the fundraising to candidates and parties.

"California is trying to come out in front of this issue and, frankly, severely restrict the number of IEs that will be considered independent," Levinson said. "Increasingly it's a question of how and where do you want the money to flow, not whether it's going to flow."

Spending by outside groups has soared in recent years, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the government can't restrict independent spending on elections. In response, California has boosted reporting requirements for outside groups.

Commission Chairwoman Jodi Remke said the new regulations seek to ensure separation between outside spending groups and candidates.

Not only will the changes prevent illegal coordination, "it also provides meaning to contribution limits," Remke said.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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