SACRAMENTO–A bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to ban School and College District superintendents and administrators from raising campaign cash for the board members that they serve passed its final legislative hurdle this afternoon and will now be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for his consideration of signing the campaign finance reform into law.
“This important bill will help prevent real or perceived corruption in our school and college districts,” Gonzalez said. “Top-level administrators who are involved in the making of contracts with district contractors, vendors and employee unions should not be raising campaign cash for the school and college board members, especially when those administrators are employed at the pleasure of those board members.”
Under Assembly Bill 1431, administrators at California’s public school districts and community college districts would be prohibited from soliciting contributions on behalf of the campaigns and legal defense funds of candidates and incumbent board members that govern those districts. School and college board candidates would also be prohibited to tap administrators to raise funds their campaigns. Violators would be subject to penalties assessed by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
That involvement of administrators in campaign fundraising – which was alleged in several of the recent corruption cases involving officials at southern San Diego County’s Sweetwater Union High School District, San Ysidro School District and Southwestern College – created a troublesome dynamic between staff and board members at those districts. In the allegations, administrators raised money for their board members from contractors with business before their districts, allowing them to exert inappropriate influence over their own job security with the boards that hired them as well as the process for selecting contractors to rebuild and revamp the districts’ campuses.
AB 1431 was ratified by the Assembly 56-17 Monday after the State Senate passed it on a 33-2 vote a week ago, surpassing the two-thirds vote threshold required for both houses to amend the Political Reform Act. Gov. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.