Bringing the dark money of California politics into the light

By Sharon Quirk-Silva, Assemblymember
Orange County Register, September 30th, 2017

Special-interest money insidiously infects our campaigns and elections, rigging the system for the billionaires and backroom forces behind those contributions. We??â"¢ve got to put a stop to it. The integrity of our public policy-making process, and the very core of our democracy, is at stake. We must put government in the capable hands of its citizens.

Many big-money campaign donors hide behind layers of misleading organization names, enabling campaigns to conceal their top contributors. These shell groups, in turn, air malevolent TV ads that distort the truth, disparage candidates, discourage voter turnout, and damage the people??â"¢s confidence in the voting process. We must put a stop to special interests spending unlimited amounts of secret money to influence government and elections.

For this reason, I am a proud co-author of the California DISCLOSE Act. Also known as Assembly Bill 249, this act would regulate how campaign committees and independent expenditures must disclose who is paying for their political advertisements. Names of the top three contributors must be displayed for donors that give over $50,000 for print, television, radio and electronic advertisements. Additionally, the bill would require advertisements to display donors??â"¢ names for a minimum length of time, in a legible font, and in a size easily readable against a black background occupying no less than one-third of the screen or advertisement.

When you know who the messenger is, you can more effectively evaluate the message. By bringing the sources of this dark money into the light, we force groups to put their true identity next to their words with transparency and accountability.

The California DISCLOSE Act seeks to ensure that more campaign reports of big donors aren??â"¢t limited to a list of innocuous sounding political action committees. The result would be the names of corporations or labor groups clearly spelled out, the kind of information that more easily helps voters decipher whose money is behind the message.

The DISCLOSE Act would be the strongest campaign advertisement finance law in the nation. California should set an example for this great nation, and ensure that our politics represent the people, not big-money corporations.

See the article on Orange County Register website

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