The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed unlimited anonymous spending on campaigns.
Over $475 million was spent on CA ballot measures in 2012 alone, almost all of it by veiled actors hiding behind innocuous-sounding names like "Stop Special Interest Money Now" or the "2012 Auto Insurance Discounts Act".
Government-changing propositions are passed by hidden special interests spending millions on deceptive ads.
SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act, would end big secret spending on campaigns by letting voters know who REALLY is paying for ballot measure ads — on the ads themselves.Authored by Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, SB 52 would amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 and therefore requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to pass.
Requires the three largest funders of ballot measure ads to be clearly identified (two largest for radio ads and robocalls), so voters know who is actually paying for them.
Applies to all television ads, radio ads, print ads, mass mailers, online ads, and billboards for or against state and local ballot measures. It applies whether ads are paid for by corporations, unions, or millionaires.
Tells voters where to find the details for the largest committees — Requires ads paid for by committees that spend $1 million or more to link to the FPPC page listing their top ten funders.
Follow-the-Money Disclosure will ensure that the names shown on ads are the "original source of contributions... notwithstanding the fact that the contributions were transferred, in whole or in part, through one or more other committees or persons". In other words, they most show the actual original corporate, union, or individual contributors — not misleading committee and non-profit names.
The attempt by Texas oil interests to overturn California's landmark climate change law with Prop 23 in 2010 failed because opponents had enough funds to disclose to voters that it was funded by Texas oil companies.
Despite tens of millions spent in 2010 on Props 16 and 17 by PG&E and Mercury Insurance, both lost because enough people knew they were the largest spenders and took that into account when viewing their ads.
Unfortunately, the largest funders aren't usually as clear as in Props 16, 17, and 23. SB 52 would make sure they're clear all the time.
SB 52 is Constitutional and Reasonable
8 out of 9 justices in the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision noted the problems when groups run ads "while hiding behind dubious and misleading names" and said we need transparent disclosure for voters "to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages."
Required TV ad disclosures are the same time and space as current law — just much more effective.
Required radio ad disclosures are shorter than those in current law in most cases — but more effective.
"Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed."
— Justice Antonin Scalia, writing in Doe v. Reed, 2010
Californians are Ready for the California DISCLOSE Act
84% of California voters said they favored legislation to "increase the public disclosure requirements of initiative sponsors to more clearly identify who are its major funders" in the October 13, 2011 Field Poll, including 86% of Democrats, 88% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans.
Over 100,000 Californians have signed petitions urging the legislature to pass the California DISCLOSE Act.
"The overwhelming power of money to mislead voters is a profound moral issue."
— Reverend Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of California Church IMPACT, representing 1.5 million people of faith in California.
Tell voters who is really funding propositions and attack ads when it counts!
Amazon donates at least 6% of all purchases you make to the California Clean Money Campaign when you start from this button.
League of Women Voters of California
Brennan Center for Justice
California Clean Money Campaign
California Alliance of Retired Americans
California Church IMPACT
California Common Cause
California League of Conservation Voters
California National Organization of Women
Consumer Federation of California
Green Chamber of Commerce
Lutheran Office of Public Policy - CA
Redwood Empire Business Association
Sierra Club California
Southwest Voter Registration Education Project
U.S. Green Building Council of California
And Other Leading Groups and Individuals See all...
The need for the California DISCLOSE Act was shown by all the deceptive political ads that helped lead to the defeat of Proposition 15. But Prop 15 built a huge coalition for Fair Elections and helped lead to the overwhelming victory of Measure H in Los Angeles with 75% of the vote.