Advocacy Experts Urge California Agency to Extend Public Comment Period
Oakland, CA, December 29, 2016–The West Coast offices of Bolder Advocacy, a program of Alliance for Justice, recently asked the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to extend the public comment period for the second draft of an extensive proposed revision of the state’s Political Reform Act. In a letter to the FPPC dated December 21, AFJ noted that it convened California nonprofits and attorneys who work with nonprofits to review the proposed reforms, including the Sierra Club, ACLU of California, and attorneys from the California Political Attorneys Association. The groups were in agreement that more time is needed for adequate public review and input.
The Political Reform Act (PRA) is a landmark ethics law in the state. The FPPC’s PRA Revision Project seeks to make the PRA clearer and more accessible to individuals and organizations engaging in lobbying, elections, and other public policy change at the state level. Anyone taking part in these activities in California must comply with the PRA, so allowing nonprofit advocates a meaningful opportunity to offer productive input into the PRA revision is crucial. Previously, Bolder Advocacy asked for an extension of the comment period on Draft 1 of the Revision Project, and that deadline was moved from September 30 until October 31. However, FPPC has not yet responded in writing to public comments on Draft 1. As a result, those who sought to offer input into the revisions did not have the benefit of the FPPC’s reasoning for modifying or not modifying certain sections of the PRA in Draft 1 or Draft 2. Now, concerned members of California’s nonprofit community face a December 31 deadline to submit comments on Draft 2, without a full understanding of FPPC’s reaction to comments on Draft 1 or adequate time to review Draft 2.
Referring to AFJ’s convening of concerned California nonprofits, the letter states, “Informed by this discussion and our own analysis, we respectfully maintain that the second comment period must be extended. Extending the comment period until at least February 15, 2017 will allow a broader cross-section of affected organizations to thoughtfully comment on changes to the PRA that directly impact their organizations and the communities they serve.”
During a December 19th conference call convened by Bolder Advocacy, Hyla Wagner and Philip Ung of the FPPC, the FPPC agreed to consider extending the official Draft 2 public comment deadline until February 15. The FPPC also noted that they would receive and read all public comments submitted, including comments submitted as late as March and April. In addition, the FPPC agreed to publish a written summary responding to common themes among the public comments.
Bolder Advocacy promotes active engagement in democratic processes and institutions by giving nonprofits and foundations the confidence to advocate effectively and by protecting their right to do so. Our goal is to demystify and decode advocacy by equipping organizations with knowledge and tools. We help organizations fully understand the rules and become assertive in their right to pursue their policy goals.