Landmark, first-in-the-nation disclosure legislation, Social Media DISCLOSE Act, signed by Governor Brown!
AB 2188, providing disclosure on political ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and other online platforms, signed after major grassroots campaign
"Last year, the California DISCLOSE Act (AB 249) set the standard for campaign finance disclosure for print, television and radio ads, generated for and against state initiatives and candidates," said AB 2188 author Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin. "AB 2188 extends those tough requirements to social media, giving voters the ability to see the top three funders of political ads on the various social media platforms."
Assembly Bill 2188, authored by Assemblymember Mullin, working the California Clean Money Campaign, requires online platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to accompany ballot measure ads and independent expenditure ads about candidates with a clear list of the committee's name and top three funders of $50,000 or more. If the platform shows the name of the committee on the ad (instead of linking to it), they must first list the top three funders.
Importantly, AB 2188 uses the nation-leading rules from AB 249, the California DISCLOSE Act (passed in 2017) that follow the money to identify original donors even when funds pass through multiple committees. AB 2188 also requires the platforms to keep a public database of all the political ads a committee pays for.
"With Governor Brown signing this landmark follow-up to the California DISCLOSE Act, we start shining a light on secret political money on social media by requiring, for the first time anywhere, that ballot measure ads and outside ads attacking or supporting candidates on social media show their top three funders," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "Every American who cares about democracy owes Governor Brown, Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, and all the bold leaders in the California Legislature of both parties who helped AB 2188 pass an enduring debt of gratitude."
AB 2188 passed through the legislature on overwhelming bipartisan votes. It passed the Senate 31-8 with Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) as floor manager, in a landslide and bipartisan vote of 31-8 with every Democrat voting "Yes" joined by Republican Senators Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Ling-Ling Chang (R-Brea), John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), and Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). It passed the Assembly 69-3 with 54 Democratic votes and with Assemblymember Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) showing particular bipartisan leadership for transparency in campaign financing by helping AB 2188 achieve a record 15 Republican Assembly votes, along with Assemblymembers Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) and Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga) standing out by speaking in support of AB 2188 on the Assembly floor.
Sweeping grassroots activism and coalition support were fundamental to AB 2188's decisive passage. Tens of thousands signed online petitions, sent emails, and submitted official web comments. Thousands called their legislators and Gov. Brown, and hundreds of volunteers gathered 26,000+ signatures. AB 2188 was supported by 31 state and national groups for good government and the public interest ranging from California Common Cause, CALPIRG, the League of Women Voters of California, and Money Out Voters-In, to California Church Impact, the California League of Conservation Voters, Consumer Federation of California, and Courage Campaign.
Campaign spending in California has steadily increased with each election cycle, with over $1 billion spent on statewide ballot measures between 2012 and 2016. Before the implementation of AB 249, donors could hide behind layers of misleading organization names and top donors could be concealed by campaigns. The DISCLOSE Act strengthened the requirements for disclosing the names of the top three funders of ballot measures and independent expenditures on television, radio and print ads -- and now AB 2188 extends those same requirements to online platforms.
"This legislation was successful because industry stakeholders listened and responded to the concerns raised about the lack of transparency related to advertising on social media and other online platforms," Mullin added. "Everyone who participated in our discussions demonstrated a commitment to our democracy and to transparency in our elections. As the epicenter of social media technologies, it stands to reason that California would create a strong disclosure template to be replicated by other states, and hopefully (eventually) the federal government."
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