AB 700, the 2015 California DISCLOSE Act Introduced by Assemblymembers Jimmy Gomez and Marc Levine!

A new effort to give voters the information they need by requiring significantly greater transparency in political ads was launched with the introduction of the 2015 California DISCLOSE Act by Assemblymembers Jimmy Gomez and Marc Levine.  The 2014 version was endorsed by more than 400 organizations and leaders, and 80,000 Californians who signed petitions urging the legislature to pass it.

"The goal of this legislation is to press for greater transparency at who's trying to hide behind these magnificently titled political committees, expose their true identities and motivations," said Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Northeast Los Angeles).  "Voters deserve to know."

AB 700 requires the top three funders of ballot measure ads to be shown clearly and unambiguously on the ads themselves.  Most importantly, it requires that the funders disclosed on ads be the original sources of the contributions to the committee that paid for the ad, even if funders try to hide behind multiple layers of committees or organizations.

AB 700 builds on the progress achieved by the 2014 version of the California DISCLOSE Act, SB 52 (Leno-Hill), which passed the Senate on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 28-11, and then passed all its Assembly committees.  The authors and sponsor agreed not to call for a final Assembly vote in order to have more time to address stakeholders’ concerns.  AB 700 will address their concerns while being just as strong as SB 52.

“It is important that the voters know the real source of political spending,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael).  “PACs and independent expenditures result in voters getting bombarded with mail, commercials, and advertisements.  AB 700 will help inform voters on who is truly trying to influence their vote.”

The need for serious reform of disclosure on political ads is skyrocketing.  Over $640 million was spent on ballot measures alone in the last two election cycles in California 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 Higher Health Care Costs".  For 2016, billionaires have already pledged to spend nearly $1 billion nationally, most of it hidden behind Dark Money groups.

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.

“We are thrilled that Assemblymembers Gomez and Levine are taking the lead to pass this crucial transparency legislation into law”, said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, sponsor of AB 700.  “There is a growing 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 Assemblymembers Gomez and Levine every step of the way.”

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