Following a series of votes Wednesday and earlier this
week, Senate bills 2, 3, 27, and 52 are on their way out of
the California Senate and into the Assembly. Each measure
would amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 in different
Support for SB 52, also called the "DISCLOSE Act" - not to
be confused with Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Chuck
Schumer's (D-New York) efforts at the national level - has
followed a concerted public awareness effort from
proponents and its sponsors, Sens. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo)
and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).
The bill passed Wednesday after a 28-11 vote.
If signed into law, SB 52 would require the top three
donors (over $10,000 for statewide positions and $2,000 for
local races) of a political advertisement be openly
identified either in the ad itself or on the campaign's
website. It would also compel disclosure for 'issue
advocacy' advertisements, which may not directly
support/condemn a candidate running for office, but can
potentially influence voter choice.
In a release, Leno said:
"With more information at their fingertips, voters will
be more encouraged to vote and can make better informed
decisions at the ballot box."
Currently, special interests attempting to sway voters one
way or another can use 501(c) nonprofit organizations to
dodge disclosure requirements. An instance of which was
uncovered by the California Fair Political Practices
Commission shortly after the last election.
Although the slew of California campaign finance reform
bills have been short on Republican support, Anthony
Cannella (R-Ceres) offered his endorsement of SB 52,
"The DISCLOSE Act provides voters with a new level of
transparency in campaign finance disclosure that I
whole-heartedly support. I want to commend Senator Leno
for bringing forth this legislation and am proud to
SB 2 and 3 were also passed Wednesday. Sponsored by Sens.
Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), the
"Sunshine in Campaigns Act" (which consists of both bills)
outlines a similar 'stand by your ad' provision as in SB
52. However, candidates would be required to verbally
approve any coordinated elections communications. The act
also increases penalties for failing to disclose properly
along with several other provisions.
Lastly, Senator Lou Correa's (D-Santa Ana) SB 27 passed
28-8 on Tuesday. Introduced in December alongside SB 52 to
combat the same problem of 'dark money' in California
elections, the bill would require disclosure of individuals
behind donations to political campaigns even if they come
from 501(c) nonprofit groups.
The strong Democratic majority in the Assembly should hold
a bright future for SB 2, 3, 27, and 52. The California
Fair Political Practices Commission has been supportive of
such efforts as well.