It speaks loudly about how campaign contributions carry the
freight in Sacramento that there's a possibility the
Assembly will trample all over grass-roots democracy before
the weekend is over.
An important vote is scheduled for Saturday. By passing the
DISCLOSE Act, the Assembly could shine a bright light on
the gobs of secret donations darkening our elections since
the infamous 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S.
The Senate has already passed SB 52, which was authored by
Sens. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Mark Leno, D-San
Francisco. But the word being circulated by good-government
groups and other supporters of the bill is that Democrats
in the Assembly are wavering because of pressure from
powerful opponents of the legislation. These opponents
include the Service Employees Union International, the
California Teachers Association and the California Labor
What would the DISCLOSE Act do?
It would bring greater transparency to ballot measures by
requiring that political ads aired on television
prominently disclose the top three original funders.
All print ads and mailers also would have to clearly
provide the top three original funders and the name of the
committee paying for the ad.
In radio commercials and on robocalls, there would be a
clear announcement of the top two original funders. That's
right, no more speed readings that sound like the frenzied,
often unintelligible disclaimers at the end of car sales
California's voter turnout is declining in part because
people feel that their voices are drowned out by big-money
interests. Putting SB 52's sunlight on ballot measures will
enable voters to identify the true sources of funding and
unmask those who hide behind misleading or
patriotic-sounding committee names.
The shame of it is, this legislation should have passed the
Legislature and landed on the governor's desk last year.
But, as we in California know all too well, there are many
Democratic lawmakers who genuflect to the union label. With
SEIU, CTA and other labor groups opposed to more
transparency in political advertising, SB 52 could falter
We are calling on all Assembly members from the San Joaquin
Valley - Democratic and Republican - to support the
If, in the post-Citizens United era, there is no easy way
to stem the tide of unlimited money in elections, voters
and their elected leaders should insist upon the sunlight
that SB 52 delivers.