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"Dark Money" Still Found In California Elections

In the two years since California election regulators issued their largest fine ever, little has changed at the federal level to eliminate “dark money” in elections. The chair of the Federal Elections Commission doesn’t expect change soon.

Federal rules and many states allow often-innocuously-named non-profits to contribute to campaign organizations, without disclosing their donors.

California traced $15 million in the 2012 elections to a web of non-profits set up in states with loose disclosure rules. The California Fair Political Practices Commission demanded return of the money and levied a million dollar fine for essentially laundering the money. Then-FPPC chair Ann Ravel now heads the Federal Elections Commission.

"That case influenced my views about the FEC and what the FEC should be doing," says Ravel.

Ravel says while some states have tightened their rules, dark money flows across their borders.

"It is really important for there to be a federal solution to the problem and really robust disclosure on the federal level."

But Ravel says the FEC’s three Democrats and three Republicans can’t agree on what action, if any, to take.

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