Political campaigns deliberately leave voters in the dark
when ads list sponsors with mysterious names like "Voters
for a More Prosperous California" or "Citizens for a Strong
and Sensible State."
Californians have come to expect such uninformative names
on ads and mass mailers for or against ballot initiatives
It is, of course, a deliberate scheme to hide the identity
of individuals and organizations financing the campaigns.
News reporters and other watchdogs eventually find out the
real source of the money, but after a delay that deprives
voters of timely information.
Tuesday, the California Assembly is scheduled to vote on a
proposal to toughen the state's political reporting
requirements so California voters won't suffer as much of
this abuse in the future.
Assembly Bill 1148, called the California Disclose Act,
would force campaign strategists to skip the made-up names.
Instead, their ads on TV, radio and in print, their mass
mailers and websites would have to report the actual names
of the top three contributors giving $10,000 or more,
whether they're individuals, businesses or other types of
If the business or organization has a logo, it too would
have to appear as part of the disclosure. A website address
also would have to be provided where the public could find
additional information about the top handful of financial
A two-thirds vote will be required for the Assembly to pass
AB 1148 and send it to the Senate for consideration. The
two-thirds requirement is a high hurdle, and it's unclear
whether the bill will pass that test.
In the opinion of The Star, AB 1148 merits approval. We
think the Assembly would be well advised to OK it without
The legislation is a well-thought-out attempt to give
voters more information so they can make good decisions on
Election Day. It is a reasonable step aimed at uncovering
the influence of special-interest money in politics.
The author of AB 1148 is Assemblymember Julia Brownley,
D-Santa Monica, whose 41st District includes parts of
Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Her bill has been
endorsed by many elected officials and groups in this
region and across the state, including the League of Women
Voters of California and California Common Cause.
Voters should know who's funding political campaign
activities. AB 1148 can help accomplish that by providing
more transparency and accountability so the public can make
more informed decisions.