County Change To Donation Restriction Law Aimed To Curb Political Money Laundering

Prompted by a pending change in state law, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has layered onto its existing campaign financing regulations a requirement that candidates explicitly identify the originating source of donations that are provided to them by an agent or intermediary of the actual donor.
On October 31, the amending of a campaign finance limitation ordinance first approved in August 2012 was previewed and tentatively voted upon by the board. On November 14, the board of supervisors gave a second and confirming vote on amending the 2012 campaign finance reform ordinance, revising the disclosure and reporting requirements for contributions made to candidates through the agents or intermediaries of contributors.
On August 28, 2012, the board of supervisors adopted an ordinance, codified as San Bernardino County Code sections 12.4301 through 12.4318, which established a campaign contribution limit for all candidates for elected county offices and certain other related requirements. The per-donor contribution limit of $4,400 was based on the limit set forth in the Political Reform Act, which was derived from Assembly Bill No. 2146, sponsored by then Assemblyman Paul Cook in 2012, authorizing the California Fair Political Practices Commission to enforce the county’s ordinance pursuant to an agreement between the parties. That agreement has since been renewed three times, most recently through December 31, 2018.
The current version of the Political Reform Act sets forth certain reporting and disclosure requirements regarding contributions made to candidates indirectly by a contributor through an agent or intermediary of the contributor. The amendment to the county ordinance introduced on October 31 and passed on November 14 revises County Code section 12.4306 to make it comport with Section 27 of AB 249, authored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, known as the California Disclose Act, which amends the California Political Reform Act effective January 1, 2018. Mullin’s bill revises the reporting and disclosure requirements of the Political Reform Act with respect to contributions made to candidates by a contributor who hands the money off to a second party before it reaches its intended end recipient. AB 249 spells out when a contribution is considered “earmarked” for a candidate, what the reporting and disclosure requirements are for the contributor, the agent or intermediary, and the recipient of such contributions, and when such requirements are triggered.
The proposed amendment to San Bernardino County Code section 12.4306 was reviewed by FPPC staff on October 24, 2017. The ordinance amendment shall take effect on January 1, 2018 to coincide with the effective date of AB 249.

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