EXCERPT: Critics of political donations to school bond campaigns from companies that profit from the bonds are urging federal regulators to take bolder steps against what they call a "pay to play" practice.
The California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors, as well as some financial firms, called on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board this month to consider banning donations from bond underwriters to bond campaigns.
The federal board had solicited feedback, much of which came in just before the Monday deadline, on a more cautious proposal to expand public disclosure of such donations. The board stated that enhanced transparency would help it decide whether more regulations - including a ban on the donations - would be necessary.
A financial industry trade association pushed back on some of the proposed regulations, and a conservative legal organization, the Center for Competitive Politics, argued that a ban would be unconstitutional.
An earlier story by California Watch, sister site of The Bay Citizen, found that leading bond underwriters gave $1.8 million over the last five years to successful school bond measures in California, and in almost every case, school districts gave underwriting contracts to those same firms. ...
... Two California companies that serve as financial advisers to local governments on bond issues, Magis Advisors and Government Financial Strategies, also pushed for more public disclosure - requiring more timely and searchable reporting of campaign contributions. Some financial advisers also make contributions to bond measures.
"Government Financial Strategies is concerned about the lack of transparency in how school bond campaigns are funded, frequently by interested parties and in significant amounts, and how this leads to corruption," according to the Sacramento firm's statement [PDF] (excerpt below) to the board. ...