The Buzz: California's local governments reach accord with unions on campaign funding

09/07/2013 12:00 AM

09/06/2013 11:28 PM

For a couple of weeks, media warriors for labor unions and California's local governments were trading daily barrages over union-sponsored legislation aimed at curbing the use of auxiliary groups' funds for political campaigns.

And then it was over.

Late last week, with most Capitol denizens already gone for Labor Day, the two sides announced a compromise.

The accord was trumpeted simultaneously at 4:49 p.m. by Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the local governments, and Carroll Wills of California Professional Firefighters, less than five hours after Wills had fired an email blast alleging that the League of California Cities "stonewalls source of dark money."

The issue was SB 594, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, which would have barred local government groups such as the league and the California State Association of Counties from using funds raised through nonprofits for ballot measure campaigns.

The unions said the groups were indirectly using public funds. Local officials insisted they were not public funds.

The compromise narrows the definition of "public funds," exempts school groups and creates new transparency obligations. The bill is awaiting final votes in the Assembly and Senate.

– Dan Walters

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RICHARD COSTIGAN III, senior adviser with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and former aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, via Twitter

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