By Black Radio Network Staff
Sacramento - Special interest groups are donating money to causes supported by California's Latino legislators without any public disclosure. That charge today from Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit political group.
Twenty-three Democrats make up The Latino Legislative Caucus. The caucus foundation was started seven years ago to promote Latino culture, boost civic participation and sponsor community events.
Ending in 2008, more than $856,000 was donated to the Latino nonprofit over a two-year period, including more than $706,000 that was solicited by then-caucus leader Joe Coto, a San Jose Democratic assemblyman.
Many of the biggest checks came from powerful Capitol players, ranging from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
The stopped revealing which Capitol interest groups give hundreds of thousands of dollars to a nonprofit group it controls in 2009.
Since then, solicitations have continued – but disclosure has stopped.
Donors have not been identified since then. Contributions totaled nearly $250,000 in 2009, the most recent year for which tax records are publicly available.
Fundraising continues, however.
A flier for the foundation's "Latino Heritage in California" event last month at the Capitol sought contributions of up to $25,000, which entitled donors to "20 tickets and stage recognition." No donor has been identified.
"I think special interests see a way to help legislators that can help them, too," said Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit political group. "If they can use charitable funds, which don't have contribution limits, then why not?"
The secrecy surrounding the Latino nonprofit group stands in stark contrast to practices of a similar foundation run by the Black Legislative Caucus, which has identified donors in each of the past two years.