California regulators are proposing tighter rules on payments to influence state officials by companies and organizations.
California already requires reporting of most payments to lobbyists or gifts to state officials. But California’s biggest political players are avoiding specifics, says state Fair Political Practices chair Jodi Remke.
"We don’t know who or what they’re paying for or playing with," says Remke.
Last year’s 10 biggest spenders classified two-thirds of their lobbying payments as “other payments to influence,” a catch-all category that can include advertising, advocacy and consultants.
So a newly-proposed FPPC rule would require lobbyist employers who spend more than $2,500 in "other payments," would have to report who they paid and the type of payment, including advertising or public affairs.
At a recent meeting, Carmen Balber of Consumer Watchdog argued it should go further.
"We don’t get a lot more disclosure from that, so I would urge some more specificity," says Balber.
The commission will vote at its next meeting in January.