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California changes the rules for campaign contributions

AP reports:

The state's campaign watchdog Wednesday closed a contribution limit loophole that enabled Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to raise nearly $4 million last year in limit-topping donations in his unsuccessful campaign for governor.

The Fair Political Practices Commission's 4-0 vote threw out the panel's 2 1/2-year-old ruling that said campaign committees in existence before voter-approved contribution limits took effect in January 2001 were not covered by the caps.

The original decision drew strong criticism from campaign reform groups and some legislators and to a significant extent kept open the flow of big donations that voters tried to cut off when they approved Proposition 34 in 2000.

According to Common Cause, the old ruling has enabled legislators to raise at least $6 million in donations that exceeded the limits of Proposition 34, which puts a $3,200-per-election cap on donations to legislative candidates from most sources. Limits for statewide candidates are higher.