GFC’s Political Muscle

Last week I wrote that we believe a 10-year-old GFC in 1999 could’ve stopped the enactment of SB 400, which granted a retroactive pension increase. That’s because of the political muscle we’ve added over the last decade. We will discuss that subject and more at our October 22 Legislative Session Review for donors. For now, see below.

To amend any of the 29 codes that govern life in California, a legislator must gain the support of 60 other legislators plus the governor. To boost their influence inside the legislature, legislators accumulate “hard money” political donations they can use to support other legislators and meet requests from legislative leadership. Before we arrived in 2011, legislators got most of that money from special interests. Since then, we have become the largest bundler of hard money donations to legislators and candidates for the legislature ($3.2 million last year, no donation exceeding $4,700 per recipient per election). We’re also highly visible. In addition to a four-person team in Sacramento, we have four lobbying firms on contract and as needed can rapidly summon letters from the GFC Network.

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer with GFC Associate Director of Political and Legislative Affairs Jesse Vallejo

Our growing political muscle is why a growing number* of legislators have the confidence to say “no” to special interests. As those of you have followed our missives know, we have stopped bills that would’ve granted new monopolies to government employee unions, boosted taxes, excluded Teach For America from CA classrooms, exempted a county from pension law limitations, and more. Our muscle is also why other reform organizations occasionally ask us for assistance.

Stopping bad bills is not enough. Dozens of reforms are needed to reverse the consequences of decades of special interest control of Sacramento. As readers know, our first offensive successfully liberated nurse practitioners from California’s repressive licensing laws. Currently we have our sights set on reforms to tenure, retiree healthcare and conflict-of-interest political donations. All will be long and difficult battles requiring persistent support from donors like you.

*Good governance doesn’t require every legislator every time, as we explain here.