Craig Preston wants campaign advertisements to includes the
names - and where applicable, company logos - of the three
If that law had been in effect in November, for example,
Mercury Insurance's name and logo would have appeared on
advertising for Proposition 33, which instead listed the
2012 Auto Insurance Discount Act as its first contributor.
The name of Mercury, the primary sponsor, did not appear on
the website, advertising or in the ballot argument.
News reports and campaign finance reports detailed
Mercury's central role and the measure failed. But Preston
said those reports are not enough - that many voters don't
pay close enough attention.
"Without this disclosure act, the voters are easily
fooled," Preston said at the Friday luncheon of the League
of Women Voters Orange Coast, which convened at the Marie
Calendars in Irvine. "Usually, the disclosure is just a
committee's name. It doesn't say who the funds are coming
The issue also arose in November when the Arizona-based
Americans for Responsible Leadership gave $11 million in
opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and in
support of the union-weakening Proposition 32. The group
lost both races - but largely won its effort to keep its
donors secret. When finally ordered by the California
Supreme Court to say where it got the money, Americans for
Responsible Leadership announced the day before the
election that it came from Americans for Job Security and
the Center to Protect Patient Rights.
Not exactly the transparency Preston and his group, the
California Clean Money Campaign, are looking for.
The group's proposal passed the Assembly this year on a
party line vote, with support from Democrats and opposition
from Republicans. The session ended before the bill reached
the Senate, but Preston said it will be back in 2013
Preston said his group is non-partisan but acknowledges it
has virtually no support from Republicans. Its effort is
endorsed by nearly two dozen Democratic groups though, as
well as a host of non-partisan groups including the League
of Women Voters and the Sierra Club.
Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, is among Republicans who
voted against the disclosure bill in this year.
His primary objection was the requirement that company
logos appear on the advertisements, citing company
complaints that it would dilute their brand image.
"There was a feeling that it was an effort to drive
corporate participation out of campaigns, while it wasn't
likely to affect the unions and groups like the Sierra
Club," Wagner said.
Wagner's said his personal preference would be complete
online disclosure of names within 24 hours of contributions
but with no contribution limits. He doesn't advocate for
listing donors sans logos on advertisements but said, "I
don't think I have a problem with having the biggest donors
listed by name."
Because of the voter-approved Political Reform Act of 1974,
Preston's proposal would need to be approved by voters - or
by two-thirds of the Legislature. With last month's
election, Democrats now control two-thirds of both
"There's a lot of shenanigans that's going to be played
with the supermajority," Wagner said. "It's not just with
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