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Republican Demise is Bad for All of Us

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Opinion: Republican Demise is Bad for All of Us

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At first, it sounded like a gag. The California Republican Party was planning to scale back its presence in Sacramento.

The party of Warren, Reagan, Wilson and, yes, Schwarzenegger in financial trouble?

The fact is that the state Republican Party organization is on shaky legs. It has laid off staff and no longer has much money to assist candidates for offices. Meanwhile, the state Democrats have a war chest in excess of $13 million, and are ready to dole out dough to their candidates.

The thought of California becoming a one party state surely must bring glee to Democrats and a lot of head scratching to Independents, the fastest growing segment of the state.

But what does this really mean?

The state Republican Party may be in trouble, but Republican candidates aren't.

The new landscape really means that now, more than ever, Republican candidates will be dependent upon their individual fund raising skills and the benevolent assistance of independent expenditure groups like Super PACs.

On the surface, this may not sound like much of a change. But it's actually a significant shift.

When candidates raise funds, they and their financial supporters must report the contributions to the Secretary of State.

Those reports are available to the public, should anyone care to see them. Sometimes, the media poke around to see who has contributed to who, and interesting stories are produced for viewers and readers.Independent expenditures don't have the same reporting requirements.

But independent expenditure organizations are not obligated to report who contributes what. Rather, they can simply spend the money without directly acknowledging sources.

The 2010 Citizens United case makes it even easier. Technically, these contributions are supposed to be separate from the candidates and focus on issues or the problems with opponents. But the money still impacts campaigns.

Republican candidates this year also will get support from party leaders, such as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who have held fund-raisers to support the state's Republican candidates.

But make no mistake about it. The new conduit for operates in a veil of secrecy and unaccountability.

And the less we know about who gives what to whom, the less we'll know about the candidate and his or her supporters.

It's a lack of knowledge that could easily lead to corruption and deceit.

Larry Gerston teaches political science at San Jose State University and is the political analyst for NBC Bay Area.

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