Supporters of state legislation to require more prominent
disclosure of political donations in advertisements are
hoping that a bipartisan approach will bolster their
chances of passage in the Legislature.
Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, and
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, on Monday
announced a new version of the legislation a month after a
similar bill failed to garner the two-thirds supermajority
needed to modify the Political Reform Act.
Assembly Bill 1648, which was introduced last week, would
require political advertisements to identify their
top-three contributors of $10,000 or more along with
providing a website where voters would be able to obtain
more information about an ad's 10 largest backers.
It would apply to all television, radio, print and slate
mailers for candidates and ballot measures. Brownley, who
recently announced a congressional bid, said the goal was
to help Californians become better informed to "proudly
participate in an open and transparent Democracy."
The California DISCLOSE Act is part of fresh wave of
proposals by open government advocates following a U.S.
Supreme Court decision in 2010 that removed limits on
political spending by corporations, unions and individuals.
Speaking this month in San Diego, House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi urged support for "super Pac" transparency
legislation as a way to restore trust in the country's
institutions. Last year, a bill containing similar language
fell one vote short in the U.S. Senate.
The state bill came up two votes shy of the two-thirds vote
it needed, with Republican Don Wagner, R-Irvine, saying he
worried about running afoul of the 1st Amendment.
One Democrat did not support the bill while Fletcher was
the only Republican voting in favor. Despite garnering the
support of more than 300 organizations, he said it was
ultimately scuttled by insiders and defenders of the status
"However, we can't let that stand in the way of doing the
right thing," said Fletcher, who is running for mayor of
San Diego. "People have a right to know who is funding
political campaigns and where true support or opposition is
really coming from. And they have a right to know this
information as they are watching the ad in real time."
The Political Reform Act of 1974 requires regular reports
of political contributions to be filed with the Secretary
of State. Fletcher said the information is often
unmanageable to the public because disclosures could be
presented in a way that distorts the top funders. He added
that CalAccess, the online clearinghouse for campaign
disclosures, has had well-documented problems with
Supporters of the bill including California Common Cause
and California Church IMPACT have secured the support of
the Democratic lawmaker and need just one additional vote.
The alternative, Brownley said, is going to the ballot.