Shining a light on political ads

Merced Sun-Star, January 23rd, 2012

Stop Hidden Taxes. California Jobs Initiative. Californians against Higher Taxes. Citizens for an On-Time Budget.

Sounds pretty good, right? Who doesn't want to create jobs, lower taxes or force legislators to do their jobs?

And that's just what the power players behind some of the state's political action committees are betting on when they sponsor political ad campaigns, spending millions to influence Californians while shielding the names of their largest donors.

A bill currently working its way through the Assembly would put an end to all that. AB 1148, the California DISCLOSE Act, sponsored by Los Angeles Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, would stop major donors from hiding behind the innocuous-sounding names of PACs in political ad campaigns.

The bill aims to make it clear where PACs find their funding, be it from large corporations, unions or private donors.

Current law requires print, television and radio political ads to identify the name of the committee that has paid for them.

Under AB 1148, the three largest funders of an ad would be identified.

Whether such a shift in campaign disclosures will have a great impact on future elections is yet unknown, but the time is right for AB 1148; the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed it Thursday.

See the article on Merced Sun-Star website

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