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Senate Republicans Introduce Real Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Legislation

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By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley) – Senate Republicans today introduced “The Legislative Reform and Transparency Act of 2014” to address ethics abuses by those serving in public office. The reforms respond to acts alleged to have been committed that led to the suspensions of three California State Senators: close campaign finance loopholes, prevent using campaign funds for criminal defense, toughen campaign reporting requirements, and increase penalties for lawmakers who accept bribes.

“These reforms get closer to the heart of the political corruption charges which the FBI alleges were committed by Senators Calderon and Yee,” said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).  “Californians deserve an honest government and shouldn’t have to question the ethics or integrity of their elected leaders.  We’re acting decisively in order to begin restoring the public’s trust. These are simple reforms and we call on Democrats to join us.”

Senate Bill 1379 is co-authored by Senate Republican Leader Huff, Senators Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte), Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley), Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), Mimi Walters(R-Laguna Niguel) and Mark Wyland (R-San Diego.)   Highlights of the Senate Republican Ethics reform package are:

  • Doubles the sentence and restitution fines for criminal bribery by a legislator;
  • Prevents the use of campaign funds for criminal defense, which Senators Calderon, Wright and Yee are allowed to do under current law;
  • Prohibits payments to the spouse or immediate family member of a member of the Legislature for work associated with elections or service in the Legislature;
  • Eliminates unlimited contributions to candidate-controlled ballot measure committees;
  • Requires 72-hour campaign reporting

In addition, in order to further transparency, Republicans called for an up-or-down Floor vote on both Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 (Wolk D-Davis, Huff and Correa D-Santa Ana) and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4 (Olsen R-Modesto.)   Both SCA 10 and ACA 4 require that all legislation be available in print and online for 72 hours before a final vote is taken.  Unfortunately, Democrat Leaders who control the Legislature have not allowed either measure to come up for a vote.

Quotes from Senate Republicans:

Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte): “Serving the citizens of California is an honor. These reforms are a significant step in proving to the public that we are dead serious about creating an honest and open system.”

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres):  “This package demonstrates we are serious about restoring trust in the Senate.  We have to take immediate action to increase transparency and close loopholes that allow bad actors to abuse the system.”

Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield): “These reforms will ensure more transparency in the political process, increase penalties for criminal bribery, and prevent the use of campaign funds for criminal defense.  While it is impossible to mandate ethical behavior, these measures are a step in the right direction.”

Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville): “Rather than enacting piecemeal changes that tinker around the edges, we think it’s time for permanent changes in state law.  Public officials must be held to the very highest moral and ethical principles. We were elected to represent the people and have a duty to uphold that trust. We want to make it crystal clear that breaking that trust by taking bribes or any other corrupt behavior will draw severe punishment.”

Senator Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley): “If legislators should be held to a higher ethical standard, then the Senate needs to take swift and strong action against any Senator who violates the law and the public’s trust.  Californians expect and should receive better representation from their elected officials.”

Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga): “This legislation is an effort to first and foremost protect the citizens of California as well as restore credibility to our body.  Elected officials should be held to higher standards when it comes to criminal acts like bribery or fraud. By doubling the penalties that are already on the books, we send a clear message that we have zero tolerance in these circumstances. Californians deserve more than just window dressing.”

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber): “Public service is an honor. We must hold ourselves to the highest standards as public officials are entrusted to uphold the law and to represent our communities.”

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