CPAC 2013- Brent Bozell, Founder and President Media Research Center

February 20, 2013

Prosecutions of California lobbyists on the rise, FPPC reports

California lobbyists are facing increased scrutiny by theFair Political Practices Commission, according to anew report by the state's political watchdog agency.

The FPPC prosecuted 14 lobbyists in 2012 for violations of the California Political Reform Act, up from just one lobbyist prosecuted two years earlier, says the commission's year-end report. The FPPC also sent 54 warning letters to lobbyists who violated the law in 2012, said the FPPC's enforcement chief, Gary Winuk. Warning letters go out when evidence shows the law was broken but circumstances do not warrant imposing a fine.

Lobbyists are required to file quarterly financial statements with the Secretary of State's Office that disclose who their clients are, how much they're being paid, and which bills or agencies they're lobbying. Any failure to file those reports can result in an investigation by the FPPC. Winuk attributed the rise in lobbying prosecutions to better coordination between the FPPC and the Secretary of State's Office.

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Congress: EPA is flouting gov’t transparency laws to hide emails


Michael Bastasch

Congressional Republicans are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of improperly using an exemption clause under the Freedom of Information Act to redact the alias email of departing Administrator Lisa Jackson.

GOP lawmakers are asking that the EPA inspector general broaden his search to find out if the agency abused its discretion by redacting the Jackson’s account name, domain name, and server for her alias account.

“Based on documents the Committees have obtained, EPA is clearly deviating from President Obama’s openness initiative and from the letter of the law,” said a letter from Republicans Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, California Rep. Darrell Issa, and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith to the EPA’s inspector general.

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Legislature won't say where lawmakers drive on taxpayers' dime

January 18, 2013

By Torey Van Oot and Jim Sanders

State legislators billed taxpayers more than $450,000 for on-the-job driving in the last legislative year, but officials won't say where the lawmakers went.

The Legislature began reimbursing members for work-related travel in their personal cars, including trips from their home to the Capitol, in Dec. 2011, after a program providing state-leased cars to members was cut by the Citizens Compensation Commission. The change saved taxpayers nearly $240,000 in its first year, a Bee analysis found.

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Court ruling in Prop. 30 case limits use of 'spot bills' in budget

The California Legislature acted unconstitutionally when it approved a bill moving Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to raise taxes to the top of the November ballot, an appeals court ruled today.

The opinion does not affect the passage of Proposition 30 but could limit the Legislature's future use of so-called "spot bills," placeholder bills included in budget packages and passed as urgency measures only after they are filled with language later. Such budget-related bills are useful to lawmakers because they require only a majority vote and take effect immediately.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the state Constitution does not allow the Legislature to include empty spot bills in the budget package and to fill them with content as urgency bills later.

The measure that gave Proposition 30 top billing on the November ballot "was nothing but a number, a placeholder, an empty vessel at the time the budget bill was passed," the court ruled.

That bill, Assembly Bill 1499, gave ballot order priority to signature-based constitutional amendments over other initiatives. A higher position on the ballot is considered advantageous.

Legislative Democrats said a $1,000 expenditure included in the bill qualified it as an appropriation. TheHoward Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenged the legislation, saying it had nothing to do with the state budget.

The taxpayers association heralded the ruling in a news release, calling it a case of "huge significance for the budget process."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office said it was reviewing the decision and conferring with counsel.

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