Strange Arizona-California Campaign Finance Case Races Against Election Clock

By Jude Joffe-Block
November 02, 2012

PHOENIX -- California's campaign finance regulators went to the state Supreme Court this afternoon with an emergency petition related to the election and an obscure Arizona nonprofit. The last-minute drama is testing California campaign finance rules.

California's Fair Political Practices Commission wants to audit the Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership before Election Day, but time is running out.

In October, the nonprofit donated $11 million to defeat one California initiative and support another, without supplying information about its donors.

The FPPC wants to audit the group to ensure the nonprofit is not violating a state rule by shielding its donors.

On Wednesday, a Superior Court judge in Sacramento ordered Americans for Responsible Leadership to hand over donor records by Thursday. But the group appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Such appeals can take months.

Not wanting a delay, the FPPC asked the appeals court to compel the lower court's order to take effect immediately, or expedite the case, but the appeals court denied the petition on Friday.

Now, the FPPC is requesting action from California's Supreme Court in order to conduct the audit before Election Day.

Public records show Americans for Responsible Leadership has also given $1.5 million to defeat two Arizona propositions, and almost $2 million to defeat President Obama.