AB 14, the 2017 California DISCLOSE Act Introduced by Assemblymembers Jimmy Gomez and Marc Levine!
"It shouldn't be legal to mislead voters — period," said Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles). "And as I said in August, I won't rest until it's stopped. I vowed that the California DISCLOSE Act will be back, because voters deserve transparency in elections. Now California is going to lead the nation to get it in political ads."
Under AB 14, all ballot measure committees and PACs supporting or opposing candidates will be required to display the names of their top 3 true funders on a solid black background on the bottom third of the screen for a full 5 seconds in television and video ads. Each name must be displayed on a separate line in a large clear font without using difficult to read full capitalization. Similar disclosure rules will exist for radio ads, print ads, and robocalls.
Perhaps most importantly, AB 14 creates new rules for earmarking contributions to ballot measures and independent expenditures to identify their true funders when they try to hide behind front groups with misleading names. No other disclosure law in the country does as much.
AB 14 builds on the unprecedented progress achieved by the 2016 version of the California DISCLOSE Act, AB 700 (Gomez-Levine), which passed the Assembly on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 60-15, before falling only one vote short on the Senate floor 5 minutes before the midnight hour of the 2016 legislative session. AB 14 is similar to the final version of AB 700, but with amendments to address concerns of the Fair Political Practices Commission and others.
"We've just gone through an election that showed we need transparency and disclosure more than ever, which is why I'm optimistic the California DISCLOSE Act will be successful this year," said Senator Ben Allen (D — Santa Monica), chair of the Senate Elections Committee and a Principal Coauthor of AB 14.
The need for serious reform of disclosure on political ads is skyrocketing. Over $1 billion was spent on ballot measures alone in California in the last three elections, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Most of it was spent by committees hiding their true funders by using misleading names like "Stop Special Interest Money Now" or "Californians Against the Deceptive Rx Proposition". Nationally, Dark Money organizations and SuperPACS spent over $1.4 billion this election.
Californians from all major political parties have overwhelmingly stated their support for greater disclosure. A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California in October 2013 found 84 percent of likely California voters favored legislation to increase public disclosure of funding sources in initiative campaigns. Those in favor include 80 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Independents.
"Californians deserve to be told the truth about who is asking for their vote," said Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). "PACs and independent expenditures result in voters getting bombarded with mail, commercials, and advertisements. AB 14 will help inform voters on who is truly trying to influence their vote."
"We are thrilled that Assemblymembers Gomez and Levine are leading to pass this crucial transparency legislation into law, joined by Principal Coauthors Senators Allen and Hill and Assemblymember Nazarian", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, sponsor of AB 14. "There is a huge movement of Californians demanding the California DISCLOSE Act because people are tired of being deceived about who pays for political ads. They will be with our authors every step of the way."
Read more about the details of AB&nsp;14