A sweeping effort designed to give Californians more
information about the biggest donors to ballot measure
campaigns was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday, a
major victory for groups that insist the current system
fails to help voters make an informed choice.
The law will simplify the wording on political
advertisements that discloses the top three donors of
$50,000 or more to a campaign. It also changes existing
state regulations on when and how to disclose "earmarked"
donations in campaign finance reports -- donations that are
bundled together by a group such as a labor union or other
"Transparency in elections is critical to our democracy and
AB 249 brings that transparency to California, giving our
voters the opportunity to make informed decisions based on
honest information," said Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South
San Francisco), the bill's author, after it was sent to
Brown in September.
The governor's decision to sign Assembly Bill 249 comes
just weeks after the chairwoman of the state Fair Political
Practices Commission raised concerns about the earmarking
provisions, suggesting the bill would make it harder for
investigators to track funds that were illegally gathered
by a single organization.
Versions of the proposal, known as the California DISCLOSE
Act, were debated but ultimately defeated the past seven
years in Sacramento. Supporters said it was important to
change a system where voters were routinely being misled
about who was paying for ballot measure campaigns. Last
November, some $473 million was raised by backers or
opponents of the 17 propositions on the statewide
The coalition of activists that helped draft AB 249 called
it the strongest campaign finance disclosure law in