In California's ever-expensive ballot wars, voters typically know who funds advertisements that hold great sway with the electorate.
But that may be changing.
An Arizona-based nonprofit named Americans for Responsible Leadership gave $11 million this week to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and curb unions' political power without saying where a single dime originated.
Campaign watchdogs say such donations exploit a loophole in California campaign finance law. Nonprofits can shield donors as long as money was never earmarked, with the burden of proof falling on state regulators already deluged with work.
"It is vitally important information for the public," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who formerly worked at the watchdog group Center for Governmental Studies. "The identity of a speaker allows the public to evaluate the credibility of the claims that are made by using this money."
Political consultants said Wednesday the $11 million donation is probably the largest sum given in a statewide contest without a known source. Last month, Iowa-based American Future Fund gave $4 million for ads backing Proposition 32 without disclosing its donors.