Senate Passes the California DISCLOSE Act

May 29, 2013

SB 52 Requires Disclosure of Top Funders Behind Political Ads

SACRAMENTO – The California Senate today passed the California DISCLOSE Act, legislation authored by Senator Mark Leno that increases transparency in political campaigns. Senate Bill 52, which is jointly authored by Senator Jerry Hill, requires that the top three funders of political ads be clearly identified, both on the ads themselves and on the campaign’s website. The bill passed the Senate with a 28-11 bipartisan vote.

“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.”

SB 52, which is sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, applies to ballot measures and issue advocacy. The bill also extends disclosure requirements to ads that praise or attack candidates or ballot measures without advocating for their election or defeat. The bill ensures that the largest funders of these ads are clearly and unambiguously identified in all advertising mediums, including television, radio, print and mass mailers. Campaign committees must also maintain a website where the largest funders are disclosed.

“As sponsor 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. “Over 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 when they fund political ads.”

Last year more than $475 million was spent on ballot measures in California. Polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of voters want disclosure requirements that better identify the major funders of initiatives.

“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.”

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

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