This week, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the governmental body which regulates political spending in California, informed us it would be investigating the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA).
The campaign finance complaint, filed nearly six weeks ago, alleges hundreds of thousands of dollars in political spending were improperly reported over multiple years, and that CSLEA has created a dark-money network by continually failing to report the names of its contributors.
You may recognize CSLEA as the parent union for the more than 100 lifeguards the Freedom Foundation helped cease their dues deduction — and the dozens more we filed litigation on behalf of to void their unconstitutional window periods.
While political spending isn’t illegal in California, hiding the donor’s true identity is.
CSLEA is supposed to report the first and last names, street address, occupation and employer for each yearly contributor giving more than $100.
Instead, CSLEA simply wrote in, “From CSLEA as intermediary for individuals under $100,” when making political action committee (PAC) donations on behalf of the union.
How do we know that CSLEA collects more than $100 per person every year? Because the union told us so.
On the CSLEA’s own website, it clearly states that each member has $28 per month taken automatically for political spending and that members must request CSLEA not use this for politics in order for that money to instead be sent to their general account.
I should say their website used to say this. The link, which was used in a previous blog post about CSLEA, has mysteriously stopped working.
What’s also suspicious is the fact that CSLEA created five different PACs with the hope of spreading out the $336 yearly in political expenditures it makes per member, nearly $1.7 million in total, to various political enterprises across the state.
Even more strange is the reality that two of these PACs aren’t registered with the IRS and only exist on paper.
We couldn’t be happier that FPPC has decided to investigate what is clearly a sketchy union. We will continue to monitor campaign finance violations and protect public employees from unions that only view them as an easy way to buy political influence.