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Litigation We’re Watching

Patterson, et al. v. Padilla (California Supreme Court oral argument concluded, awaiting opinion): The California Constitution requires the Legislature to provide for an open presidential primary, yet entrusts the Secretary of State with the duty to find presidential candidates recognized throughout California and the nation and to place their names on the ballot unless the candidate affirmatively notifies the Secretary that he or she is not a candidate. The Legislature recently passed a law requiring presidential candidates to submit five years’ worth of their federal income tax returns as a condition precedent to appearing on the state primary election ballot. A political party and its chairwoman petitioned the California Supreme Court for a writ of mandate directed to the Secretary requiring him to place all recognized candidates on the ballot, whether or not they choose to submit their tax returns, arguing that the Legislature may not impose additional requirements on candidates for placement on the ballot beyond that they be recognized as candidates throughout the state and nation. The case has broad implications for future presidential primary elections in California, and especially for the 2020 race for the oval office and its effect on down-ballot races.

News From Ethics Agencies

In 2018, the Fair Political Practices Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee on Governance found that “the Commission’s governance challenges are persistent;” “the Commission has struggled with integrating the full commission, including part-time commissioners, into its oversight and management;” and the “governance practices, ever since these were adopted in writing by the full Commission, have not been consistently observed over time.” As a result, The Commission proposes to amend or repeal 2 Cal. Code Reg. sections 18308 through 18308.3. Comments must be received by December 17, 2019.

New Legislation

SB 47 – Requires, for specified state and local initiative, referendum, or recall petitions, that an Official Top Funders disclosure be made either on the petition itself or on a separate sheet that identifies the name of the committee and any qualifying top contributors.