California court orders shady Arizona group to reveal donors

A nonprofit has poured $11 million into two California ballot initiatives [UPDATED]

By Jillian Rayfield
November 5, 2012 6:54PM (UTC)
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An Arizona nonprofit says it will appeal a decision by the California Supreme Court that ordered the group to turn over its donation records to the state's campaign finance regulators.

The Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, gave $11 million to a conservative group in California, the Small Business Action Committee. The money was to fight against Gov. Jerry Brown's tax ballot initiative, Proposition 30, and to support Proposition 32, an attempt to cut into union influence.


From the Los Angeles Times:

The Fair Practices Political Commission is trying to audit the nonprofit to see if it is improperly shielding its donors identities.

Federal law allows nonprofits to keep the identities of their donors confidential. But California regulations say donors must be identified if they give to nonprofits with the intention of spending money on state campaigns here.

The Court ruled in a 7-0 decision that Americans for Responsible Leadership must reveal its donors, and gave it an hour to comply with the audit. The group filed for an emergency stay with the Supreme Court.

"While we are working to deliver the records, we still believe that the [Fair Political Practices Commission] does not have the authority to take such action and have filed a request for immediate stay with the United States Supreme Court," a spokesman for the group's lawyers said in a statement.


UPDATE: Americans for Responsible Leadership will likely reveal the names of its donors on Monday, the Sacramento Bee reports, after withdrawing its request for an injunction by the Supreme Court. The FPPC is still expected to investigate whether or not the group violated state laws.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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2012 Elections Arizona California Campaign Finance Jerry Brown