Historic Victory for Transparency as California DISCLOSE ACT, SB 52, Passes Senate Floor

Bill providing dramatically increased transparency and disclosure for political ads passes Senate floor on a 28-11 vote with bipartisan support

SACRAMENTO – SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act, passed the full Senate on May 29th, 2013 in an overwhelming vote for increased disclosure in political ads as 27 Democrats, led by authors Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), were joined by Republican Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Merced) in voting Yes.

“In recent years there has been an unprecedented increase in election spending, which makes it more important than ever that we strengthen our disclosure laws to help raise voter confidence in the electoral process and shed light on who is funding political advertisements,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “With more information at their fingertips, voters will be more encouraged to vote and can make better informed decisions at the ballot box.”

Over $475 million was spent last year in California on ballot measures alone, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Most of it was spent by committees hiding their funders behind misleading names.

“This legislation is vital to protecting the integrity of our democratic process and ensuring fair elections in our state,” said Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. “After seeing billions of dollars flow into elections across our country after the Citizens United decision, we need the DISCLOSE Act now more than ever.”

SB 52, sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, requires state and local political ads in California to clearly and prominently list their top three funders. Committees would be required to maintain a website voters can easily access that lists the largest funders.

SB 52 applies to ballot measure ads and ads by outside groups for and against candidates. SB 52 would also extend existing law to require disclosure on sham issue and issue advocacy advertisements that attempt to influence legislative or administrative action.

“As sponsor of the California DISCLOSE Act, we are thrilled that Senators Leno and Hill are taking the lead to push this crucial transparency legislation,” said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. “More than 300 organizations and leaders have already endorsed SB 52 and over 25,000 Californians signed petitions for it, demonstrating the rising outcry to stop secretive interests from deceiving voters.”

Endorsers for SB 52 include the League of Women Voters of California, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Clean Money Campaign, CA Common Cause, California Church IMPACT, the California League of Conservation Voters, CA NOW, CALPIRG, Consumer Federation of CA, Courage Campaign, Democracy for America, the Green Chamber of Commerce, Greenlining Institute, JERICHO, the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – CA, Los Amigos, Progressives United, Public Citizen, Redwood Empire Business Association, Sierra Club CA, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, and the U.S. Green Building Council of California.

“The California DISCLOSE Act provides voters with a new level of transparency in campaign finance disclosure that I whole-heartedly support”, said Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres. “I want to commend Senator Leno for bringing forth this legislation and am proud to support it.”

SB 52 now moves to the Assembly, where Assembly Speaker John Pérez was one of 44 Assembly co-authors of the previous California DISCLOSE Act (AB 1648 authored by then-Assemblymember and now-Congressmember Julia Brownley) that passed the Assembly before running out of time to reach the Senate last August.

SB 52 is scheduled to be voted on by the Assembly again in June.  Again a 2/3 majority is required to pass the bill.

DISCLOSE is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections.

This announcement came from California Clean Money Campaign May 30, 2013.

See Confusing Political Ads – time for “California DISCLOSE Act” SB 52 for more background information.

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