© 1996 The Sacramento Bee
Tuesday, May 28, 1996 · Editorial

What's the GOP hiding?

Last week in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Republicans killed the most important campaign reform measure of the current legislative session. The committee's 12-member GOP majority refused to approve AB 2546, a bill that would have mandated for the first time that candidates file their campaign contribution reports electronically and that the state make the documents available over the Internet.

For 20 years, candidates who have run for office in California have been required to disclose who bankrolls their campaigns and how their donated funds are spent. But in a record-keeping system more suited to the quill pen era than to the information age, millions of pages of campaign reports are kept on paper in the secretary of state's office in Sacramento, inaccessible to the average voter. Politicians have fought for years to keep it that way. Measures to allow for the electronic filing of campaign records have been killed routinely. The last one, by Sen. Tom Hayden, died just a few weeks ago in a Senate Elections Committee dominated by Democrats.

Because AB 2546 was a bipartisan effort, it was this year's best hope. The bill was sponsored and strongly lobbied by Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones and authored by Democratic Assemblywoman Jackie Speier. It had no public opposition.

After defeating this good government measure, Assemblyman Charles Poochigian of Fresno, the chair of the committee, thanked his Republican colleagues of holding together on what he acknowledged was a "tough vote." Besides Poochigian, the Committee who voted to deny their constituents easy access to their campaign contribution records were Dick Ackerman, Fred Aquiar, Steve Baldwin, Tom Bordanaro Jr., Marilyn Brewer, George House, Jim Morrissey, Bill Morrow, Keith Olberg, Nao Takasugi and Bruce Thompson.

Nothing better informs voters about how a candidate is likely to perform in office than who pays for the candidate's campaign, whether it be the tobacco industry and the prison guards or the teachers unions and environmentalists. What do the Assembly Republicans have to hide?

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