Who's behind that political ad? Voters will know more in 2018

By Taryn Luna
Sacramento Bee, October 7th, 2017

Amid debate among California campaign officials over whether it would hinder their accountability work, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a measure aimed at providing voters with more information about deep-pocketed groups that pay for political advertisements.

The California Clean Money Campaign sponsored Assembly Bill 249, calling it one of the most important disclosure bills in the nation. The measure, a multiyear effort supported by government transparency advocates throughout the state, will require political advertisements to include a list of the top three financial contributors to the committee paying for the ad.

“No more fine print,†Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, the South San Francisco Democrat who authored the bill, said in a statement. “California voters will now be able to make informed decisions, based on honest information about who the true funders are of campaign ads. This transparency is critical to our democracy and I am proud that California has taken this historic first step to shine the light on "dark money." Hopefully this will encourage others to follow suit.â€

The head of the state's political ethics watchdog agency and its staff members questioned whether the bill lived up to its “California DISCLOSE Act†moniker. Staff analysts with the Fair Political Practices Commission recommended the four-member panel oppose AB 249 because it reduced the fines they can dish out to groups that violate advertising laws. The staff also argued the bill would make it harder for them to prove some campaign finance cases.

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