Governor Brown Signs SB 27, Historic Bill Against Dark Money

* Bill requires non-profits that spend $50,000 or more in California elections to reveal their secret donors

By Press Release
California Clean Money Campaign, May 13th, 2014

SACRAMENTO - SB 27, a bill that has national implications by requiring greater transparency from non-profit organizations that spend significant amounts on California campaigns, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown today.

The fact that out-of-state non-profit organizations were able to funnel $11 million into California races in the final days of the 2012 election without revealing their donors highlighted the need to strengthen California's disclosure laws. Even though the Fair Political Practices Commission imposed a record $1 million fine, they couldn't require all original funders to be revealed. Starting July 1st, the new law will reveal such secretive spending in future races beginning in this November's election.

The use of secretive non-profits to hide political spending is a snowballing national problem. A study by the Wesleyan Media Project and the Center for Responsive Politics just found that over half of the group-sponsored ads aired nationally so far this midterm election are so-called "Dark Money" ads.

"Governor Brown's signature of SB 27 marks a turning point in the fight to reveal secret funders of political campaigns. It starts to shed light on Dark Money in California and serves as an example for the entire nation." said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "We must strengthen disclosure laws even further, because voters deserve to know who's trying to influence their votes."

SB 27, authored by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and sponsored by the Fair Political Practices Commission, addresses the problem by requiring any non-profit that spends $50,000 or more in California races to become a formal campaign committee, and report the contributors that fund their campaign expenditures. Those contributions then would be available for the public to see on the Secretary of State website.

More than 40,000 people signed petitions urging the legislature to pass SB 27, including ones hosted and shared on CREDO Mobilize, Petitions,, and the California Clean Money Campaign website. It has support from not only good government groups in California like the California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, California Forward, California Voter Foundation, and the League of Women Voters of California, but also national organizations like Courage Campaign, CREDO, Maplight, the Money Out Voters In Coalition, Progressives United, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and the Sunlight Foundation.

SB 27 passed both the Assembly and the State Senate with overwhelming and bipartisan votes of 58-12 and 28-7, respectively. It will go into effect on July 1st.

"SB 27 is crucial to closing the loopholes that let billionaires and other special interests hide behind secretive non-profits. We're grateful to Governor Brown and Senator Correa for their leadership," said Lange. "Now, the Assembly must take the next and equally important step of passing SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act, so that political ads must use the information unveiled by SB 27 to show who really pays for them."

SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act, authored by Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, passed the Senate in 2013 and will have its votes in the Assembly later this year. Senator Correa is a Principle Co-Author of SB 52, along with Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), and Assembly Elections Committee Chair Paul Fong (D-Mountain View).


The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. For further information, visit

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