Political advertisements would have to clearly identify
their top three funders under legislation that state Sens.
Jerry Hill and Mark Leno introduced Thursday, Dec. 20.
The DISCLOSE Act, which stands for Democracy Is
Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections,
would also require campaign websites to identify the top
funders of political ads.
An earlier version of the legislation cleared the state
Assembly this year by a 50-26 vote but did not get through
the Senate before the legislative session concluded. Hill,
who had served in the Assembly last year, was elected in
November to the Senate, where he now represents District
13, which includes most of San Mateo County and northern
Santa Clara County.
"This legislation is vital to protecting the integrity of
our democratic process and ensuring fair elections in our
state," Hill, D-San Mateo, said in a statement. "After
seeing billions of dollars flow into elections across our
country after the Citizens United decision, we need the
DISCLOSE Act now more than ever."
The legislation, Senate Bill 52, is sponsored by the
California Clean Money Campaign and it would apply to
advertising for ballot-measure campaigns, independent
expenditures and issue advocacy, according to the
announcement from the Leno and Hill. Trent Lange, the
organization's president, said his group is "thrilled" by
the legislators' effort to push through what he called a
"crucial transparency legislation."
"Over 350 organizations and leaders endorsed the last
version, and 84,000 Californians signed petitions for it,
demonstrating the rising outcry to stop Big Money special
interests from deceiving voters when they fund political
ads," Lange said in a statement.
Leno, D-San Francisco, pointed to the "large sums of money"
contributed by unnamed organizations in the most recent
election as a reason for the act.
"The only way to stop this covert financing of campaigns is
to require the simple and clear disclosure of the top three
funders of political ads so voters can make well-informed
decisions at the ballot box," Leno said in the
According to Lange, the legislation would replace the
fine-print disclosures that are currently required with
full-screen listings of the top three funders and links to
committee websites for more information. The bill would
also ensure that the listed funders are actual individual,
corporate or union contributors, not "sham nonprofits or
misleading committee names."