State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to open an investigation into a tiny Missouri nonprofit organization that has pumped nearly $500,000 into a voter initiative to suspend the state's landmark climate change law.
In a letter to Holder on Tuesday, Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Perez, D-Los Angeles, asked the Justice Department to determine whether the Adam Smith Foundation is illegally funneling campaign contributions from third parties to support the rollback measure, Proposition 23.
"Serious issues are implicated by the use of an out-of-state organization that may be abusing its tax status to avoid having to disclose the name of its donors to a campaign that will have a profound impact on the future of California," the lawmakers wrote.
John Elliott, the Adam Smith Foundation's president, could not be reached for comment, and an e-mail to the foundation's Jefferson City, Mo., office was not returned.
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Proposition 23 seeks to suspend the state's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, AB 32, until California's unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.
Rollback advocates say the law, which aims to reduce carbon emissions statewide to 1990 levels by 2020, will lead to job losses and higher energy costs.
The law's supporters, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, say AB 32 will boost a growing clean-tech industry and create new jobs in the process.
The California Jobs Initiative committee, which is spearheading the rollback, reported in its state campaign disclosures that it received $498,000 from the Adam Smith Foundation on April 5, 2010.
The foundation's contribution represents 15.8 percent of the $3.1 million raised by the committee so far.
About half of the committee's funding has come from Texas oil interests such as Tesoro Corp. and Valero Energy Corp.
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