New legislation to change state campaign finance and reporting
State Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, joined with Assemblyman Bill Dodd to introduce sweeping new legislation strengthening the Kopp Act, which establishes new contribution and reporting standards for the State Board of Equalization.
State Controller Betty Yee, who was unable to attend the press conference, is also in strong support.
The Legislation, AB 1828, would if approved reform portions of the Kopp Act by banning contributions from individuals and businesses that have appeals cases before state board a year before the case is adjudicated, and extends that blackout period to one year after the case is adjudicated.
AB 1828 also bans all behested payments, which are donations made directly to charities and nonprofits at the request of an elected official, one year prior to, and extending to one year after the case is heard. In addition, this measure requires State Board of Equalization to be transparent in posting the names of all contributors with cases before the Board. The bill will impose the toughest fundraising and reporting requirements on any state elected officials in California.
“I am pleased to work with Assemblymember Dodd on these tough new campaign finance and reporting standards,” said Ma. “The Board of Equalization, unlike the Legislature or other constitutional offices, makes decisions that directly affect the bottom line for taxpayers and businesses, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars. We need to be fair and impartial in our decisions, and these new standards will help ensure we not only avoid a conflict of interest, but even the appearance of a conflict. ”
“I’d like to thank Fiona Ma for her leadership and partnership in fighting for transparency and campaign finance reform. It’s important that the public is given confidence that tax rulings before the Board are based on their merits and absent of the appearance of influence or favoritism,” said Assemblymember Dodd.
“Because of the board’s unique role, members must adhere to the highest ethical standards,” said Yee, the state’s chief fiscal officer. “Steps towards increasing accountability and public confidence in the board’s decisions should be applauded.”
Members of SBOE are elected from four districts in California, with the State Controller serving as an ex officio fifth member of the Board. SBOE not only collects and enforces California sales & use tax, as well as 35 special tax programs (like the tobacco tax), it also serves as the appeals body for tax disputes with either the Franchise Tax Board and SBOE.
Dodd’s legislation will make a number of changes to the Kopp Act, which governs contributions made and reported by members of SBOE.
AB 1828 was introduced by Dodd on Tuesday, and is sponsored by Ma. It will be eligible to be heard in Committee in March.