Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday lashed out at a campaign committee opposed to his November ballot measure to fund education for accepting an $11 million donation from what he called a "shadowy" Arizona nonprofit that refuses to disclose its donors.
Brown called the donation "an obvious attempt to subvert the democratic process."
The Small Business Action Committee PAC opposes Brown's Proposition 30, an income tax increase on wealthy Californians and a quarter-cent sales tax increase, and supports Proposition 32, a measure aimed at curtailing organized labor's political spending power by banning all payroll deductions for political uses.
The committee this week received an $11 million donation from an Arizona nonprofit called Americans for Responsible Leadership.
The group was formed in 2011 and previously had spent only about $600,000 in Arizona.
Nonprofits are not legally mandated by federal law to disclose where they get their money, but the California Fair Political Practices Commission enacted a rule in May that requires nonprofits to disclose who their donors are when the donors gave money to target specific issues.
"Between now and well before the election day, I demand that this shadowy committee from Arizona come out of the shadows and identify who are the big donors," Brown told City News Service. "That Arizona committee didn't find the $11 million on a street corner. These are very wealthy people or super PACS or corporations, who have engaged in a very conscious scheme to subvert the election laws of California."
Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Small Business Action Committee PAC did not return requests for comment.
The nonprofit campaign finance watchdog group Common Cause filed a complaint today with the Fair Political Practices Commission, asking the commission to subpoena the Small Business Action Committee PAC.
Philip Ung, a policy analyst with Common Cause, said the Arizona group's pattern of spending "would be suspicious to a college accounting student."
"The FPPC must not fail Californians now by looking the other way while cloaked operatives secretly launder millions of dollars in campaign funds," Ung said.
FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel said her staff will decide by early next week if the commission has jurisdiction to look into the complaint.
Subsequently, Ravel said, the FPPC will move quickly to open an investigation or ask a judge to halt the committee's spending money until it is determined whether the committee violated state campaign finance regulations.
Ravel called the contribution "extraordinary" on the state level.
"This is absolutely what the FPPC takes very seriously. It is such a large contribution that the info about the donors should be disclosed and should be public. Whether or not we have the authority is something we're looking at right now," Ravel said.