A recent email from the California Clean Money Campaign had this welcome news:

GREAT NEWS! It was "Do-or-die time for campaign funding disclosure bill", as the San Francisco Chronicle said. And SB 52 did!

The California DISCLOSE Act just passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a vote of 13-4 and is on its way to the full Assembly -- so political ads have to show who REALLY pays for them.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION urging the Assembly to pass it -- and ask your friends to sign! https://www.facebook.com/...

By clearly identifying who pays for political ads, whether the ads are paid for by corporations, unions, or billionaires, the Disclose Act will ensure that the names shown on ads are the original source of contributions even though they may be funneled through other groups with misleading committee and non-profit names. http://www.yesfairelections.org/...

The measure now needs a two-thirds vote to pass the Assembly, and that will be difficult but not impossible to obtain. (Votes are needed from three Republicans and all Democrats in the Assembly.)

Examples of the effect of anonymous spending on ballot issues:

1) An oil severance tax to pay for alternative energy was supported by nearly three-to-one in early polls for Prop 87 in 2006. It lost after $94 million in ads by unknown “Californians against Higher Taxes”. Most voters never knew its largest funders were Chevron, Aera Energy, and Occidental Oil and Gas.

2) Increased cigarette taxes led in the polls by two-to-one for Prop 29 in 2012. It was defeated by $66 million in ads with largest funders Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds Tobacco. But voters only saw the fine print “Paid for by Californians Against Out of Control Taxes and Spending”.

3) Government-changing propositions are passed by hidden special interests spending millions on deceptive ads. For example, Prop 26, which prevents the state or cities from raising fees without a 2/3 vote, was passed in 2010 after $18 million in ads from a group called "Stop Hidden Taxes." The Disclose Act would have shown that actually the three largest funders were Chevron, the American Beverage Association, and Philip Morris.

How disclosure helps voters make the right choices:
The attempt by Texas oil interests to overturn California's landmark climate change law with Prop 23 in 2010 failed because opponents had enough funds to disclose to voters that it was funded by Texas oil companies.

Despite tens of millions spent in 2010 on Props 16 and 17 by PG&E and Mercury Insurance, both lost because enough people knew they were the largest spenders and took that into account when viewing their ads. http://www.caclean.org/...

For more information, see diary by Joan McCarter yesterday: California could lead the fight against Citizens United

Originally posted to ybruti on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 03:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by Silicon Valley Kos and California politics.

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