Critics of the outsized role that independent political action committees now have in campaigns often talk about clamping down, imposing contribution limits and the like. But one brand-new idea in the state Capitol suggests something different: impose a tax.
The proposal, introduced just before the annual legislative bill deadline by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), is about as straightforward as they come in Sacramento. It would require non-candidate campaign committees, known as "independent expenditure" committees in California political parlance, to pay a tax on pretty much every dollar they spend to help elect or defeat candidates -- a tax due within five days of its official disclosure on the spending.
"By taxing this behavior that has not been good for the democratic process," said Levine on Monday, "we can begin investing again in bringing Californians into the electoral process."
The money collected by the tax would go both to new efforts on the statewide level to engage voters (who have been AWOL of late) and to local officials who have struggled to pay for running election operations.