The Democrat-appointed members of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission voted Thursday to ignore the advice of their own attorney and lift restrictions on campaign contributions to defend officials from recall votes — a move designed to help State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), who voted for Jerry Brown’s gas tax earlier this year.
Fellow elected Democrats want to send Newman money from their own political funds, but have been — until now — subject to limits. Now they will be able to send cash to Newman — one year after they put a referendum on the state ballot urging campaign finance reform through overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
The Los Angeles Times notes that the commission’s attorney had rejected Democrats’ arguments for overturning the restrictions on transferring funds to officials targeted by recalls: “[T]he transfer restriction has been in place and applied to every recall since 2003,” he said, adding that Democrats had offered no reason to reconsider that rule.
Democrats claim that they are merely leveling the playing field to compete with outside money that will flow to Newman’s opponents. But nothing stops Newman from raising as much money as he can to defend his seat.
The chair of the commission, Jodi Remke, was the only member to vote against changing the rules, noting that the fact that the commission had been appointed by Democrats would create the appearance of partisan favoritism and damage the image of the commission in the eyes of the electorate. The vote “could be considered political, potentially impacting the public’s perception of the integrity of the commission,” she said, the Times reports.
It was the second time that Democrats had broken long-standing rules in their effort to protect Newman. Earlier this month, while passing the state budget, Democrats also passed a provision that would delay Newman’s recall vote until the next election. Their hope wss that he would benefit from stronger Democratic turnout in an election year.
The commission will have to vote again to finalize the rule change before it can take effect and the money can flow.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.