In a campaign sullied by shadow money, the California Fair Political Practices Commission is seeking to unveil hidden donors.
In the process, the FPPC is heading into an area where the Internal Revenue Service has failed to tread.
We applaud the effort.
FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel and FPPC attorneys have sued in Superior Court in a step that could force an Arizona nonprofit corporation to disclose the identities of contributors who provided the $11 million that the nonprofit dumped into California campaigns last week.
No one questions the right of Americans for Responsible Leadership and its donors to their spend money to promote the deceptive Proposition 32. But Ravel, long a critic of secretive contributions, seeks to force the donors out of the shadows, so the public can better evaluate their propaganda.
Transparency is badly needed in the political process.
Nonprofit corporations long have tried to influence California elections, yet many don't want to reveal their donors' identities. Voters deserve to know who is funding campaigns.
Because of the size of its donation, Americans for Responsible Leadership is especially brazen, though not particularly wise. Its $11 million helps put the lie to the claim that Proposition 32 would improve the campaign finance system. The initiative would do nothing to enhance disclosure, but rather is aimed at crippling unions' ability to raise money.
The California Political Reform Act was perhaps the strongest law of its type in 1974 when voters approved it. The political world has changed in the past four decades.
If a shell corporation can hide the identities of donors who give $11 million, it's rather obvious that the law needs to be updated.
The IRS is failing the public by allowing nonprofits to benefit from their tax-exempt status as they spend freely on elections.