California ballot measure would force lawmakers to reveal lobbyist ties

August 2, 2023



A voter initiative that may appear on the ballot in California next year would overhaul the state’s Public Records Act, requiring unprecedented scrutiny into lobbying occurring at the Capitol, as well as more access to government documents. [Politico]

The group Consumer Watchdog, which is behind the proposals, is expected to file paperwork for the ballot initiative on Wednesday. The proposed initiative would also ensure sexual harassment allegations against lawmakers are made public.

If voters were to approve the measure, lawmakers would need to disclose lobbying meetings, fundraising events and public events on their websites. The Legislature would need to release records relating to misconduct probes, and legislators would need to retain their records for a minimum of five years, then be subject to state archiving laws.

The proposed initiative would also subject state agencies, as well as counties and cities, to similar retention timelines. Many agencies currently have a two-year retention minimum, though records like emails are often purged sooner.  

Additionally, the measure would broaden the definition of public records to include documents maintained by private vendors and contractors relating to their work for the state.

In 2018, news outlets threatened legal action for records following a string of sexual harassment scandals at the Capital. The Legislature then said it would voluntarily release substantiated claims against lawmakers or high-level staff. The proposed initiative would enshrine that disclosure in law and go further, requiring all sexual harassment investigations, not just ones determined to be well-founded, to be accessible to the public, so long as they are not deemed frivolous.

Furthermore, the proposed initiative would set a 30-day clock for agencies to provide requested records, unless extraordinary circumstances prevent them from doing so. It would also limit companies from preemptively filing lawsuits denying records and would restrict public agencies’ use of attorney-client privilege and the so-called attorney work product doctrine. Government agencies would also need to publish annual reports about delays in access to public records and post contracts with vendors on their respective websites. 

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Another proposal to cut the weeds but to leave the roots. We need proportional representation, first locally/statewide and someday federally, we also need to get rid of primaries – those partisan voters fail to hold their politicians accountable for misdeeds, parties should pick party candidates.

We need to take the money out of our elections… public financing only with forced mandatory time from networks for debates… the media is into forcing people to do things today so they should be fine with this….

No more donations… no more dark money… and term limits… this will save our nation nothing short of this will….

Wow! Not just mandatory time, but forced mandatory time. Sounds like something less than freedom of the press to me. Does FCC already have a SWAT team or would they need to create one? I double dog dare them to try to do that.

Even if it passed, they would kill it after the fact by not allocating any funding to follow through with it.

Never gonna happen in this state, these folks have too much to hide.

This is the right thing to do, But watch the push back that you get from the left. When you see the talking heads report this, you will know who wants to be an honest representative and who is in it for the Money, they will sell us out to make more of it.

While seemingly a good idea. I mean, who doesn’t want transparency? However, keeping track of every single record generated by fundraising and lobbying may simply add another layer of bureaucracy to the government. Officials already complain they don’t have enough staff to keep up with current records laws.

While well intended, and sorely needed, if passed by the majority of voters, it would be BBQ’ed by the first leftist judge that could get their grubby paws on it.

You have it backwards. Leftists love this type of regulation, where as Righties would feel it is burdensome and oppressive and try to kill it.

This is a good idea. Lets us see who are getting their pockets filled for votes rather than WE THE VOTERS!