Democratic leaders may be forced to disclose outside political consulting contracts

The California Democratic Party on Friday came closer to adopting a new policy that would require party leaders to fully disclose any compensation they receive to advocate for a statewide ballot initiative or candidate for state office.

The push for transparency comes after Eric Bauman, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and a candidate for state party chair, faced criticism after his political consulting firm was paid by opponents of Proposition 61, which voters rejected on Nov. 8.

The contract has become a pivotal issue in the party’s contentious race for party chair between Bauman and Kimberly Ellis, a Democratic organizer who has become the favored candidate among many Bernie Sanders supporters.

Democratic delegates are scheduled to vote on a new party chairperson on Saturday.

Democrat Susie Shannon of Los Angeles said the new policy would show that party leaders “are not for hire.”

Bauman’s firm, Victoryland Partners in North Hollywood, received more than $100,000 from the pharmaceutical industry that opposed the statewide ballot measure. The proposition sought to lower prescription drug prices by requiring that state agencies pay no more for medicines than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

The measure requiring disclosure came before the rules committee at the California Democratic Party’s annual convention in Sacramento Friday, and could be adopted by party’s executive committee meeting this summer.

“What is at the core of this party is transparency,” said Shannon, who proposed the measure. “We have a right to know when we’re being lobbied by executive board members.”

Under the rule, party officers will be required to file quarterly financial disclosures that list compensation they receive working for candidates or ballot measures. All party leaders would be required to disclose those contracts when contacting party officials, including members of county central committees and other delegates.

When the proposal was first introduced at a party meeting in November, Bauman said he was “100%” in favor of the measure.