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Calif. PAC Refusing to Pay $11 Million Campaign Finance Penalty

CPR file photo/Andrew Nixon

California Labor Federation's Art Pulaski speaks to a Yes on 30/No on 32 election night rally in November 2012. The controversial $11 million donation went towards the opposition to this union coalition.

CPR file photo/Andrew Nixon

California’s campaign finance agency has told the Small Business Action Committee to do something called “disgorgement” – that is, pay the state the $11 million donated last fall by an Arizona non-profit organization. 

“We don’t have the money.  It’s not there.  It’s been spent.  And we disagree with them on the issue entirely.  And so at this point, no, we’ll be fighting them and not paying,” says SBAC spokeswoman Beth Miller. 

Phillip Ung with the public interest group Common Cause says he hopes disgorgement will succeed, but “in previous cases, when people have followed all the rules and made all the notices to the donors, there was no fault to the PAC if somebody was dishonest with the PAC.” 

In this case, the PAC was exonerated by both the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorney General’s office.

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Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio