Green Party endorses AB1148 - the California Disclose Act

In support of greater transparency in the funding of candidates and campaigns, the Green Party of California endorsed AB1148, the California DISCLOSE Act, on December 4th.

AB 1148 would apply to all ads supporting or opposing ballot measures or ads supporting or opposing candidates paid for by independent expenditures and would do the following:

1) Replace current deceptive "Paid for by" disclosures with real disclosure:

• "Stand By Your Ad": Require the top funder of television and radio ads (e.g. the CEO of an organization or a millionaire) to appear and say that they approve of the message. E.g. Instead of saying, in small print, “Paid for by Stop Hidden Taxes — No on 25/Yes on 26, a coalition of taxpayers and employers...”, Yes on 26 ads last November would have said: "I am John Watson, CEO of Chevron, located in California. Chevron helped paid for this message and approves it.

• Disclose other major funders in a clear and obvious fashion:

Television ads: Top 5 funders to appear in writing in a clearly readable manner when the top funder is reading their Stand by Your Ad statement.

Radio ads: Read off second largest funder after Stand by Your Ad statement.

Print Advertising: Disclose Top 5 funders in large, clearly readable type.

Websites: Disclose Top 5 funders in large, clearly readable type on home page.

Online Advertising: Disclose as much of the Top 5 funders as feasible.

• Tell voters where to find the details: "More funding info at www.."

2) Serious new disclosure requirements for slate mailers

• E.g. Require slates to list their five largest funders and to reveal when an independent expenditure group pays for candidate endorsements.

As an amendment to California's Political Reform Act of 1974, AB 1148 (Brownley, D-Santa Monica) can either be put into effect by a 2/3 vote of the legislature or a majority vote by the legislature placing a measure on the ballot for the voters to decide. AB 1148 is a two-year bill that will come up for its first hearing in 2012. The initial language of AB 1148 is in print, but details are still being drafted, based on the federal DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175) that passed the House of Representatives in 2010 and will include other reforms specific to California.