AB 1648 Increases Transparency in Campaigns and Elections

Bill Update:  AB 1648 (Brownlee) is now dead.  The bill ended up in the Senate Rules Committee when the bill ran out of time due to the adjournment of the 2-year session.  The bill passed through the Assembly Floor with a vote of 50-26 on August 20th, 2012 after passing out of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee (4-2) and the Assembly Appropriations Committee (11-5).

CFC Position:  Support

As campaign spending and the opacity of that spending both continue to increase, it becomes more and more imperative that reforms be made to the system. The Political Reform Act of 1974 requires regular reports of political contributions, but the public is often unable to access those reports on the Secretary of State’s website.

The Act also requires disclosure of political advertisements’ donors, but those disclosures are often deliberately vague. Unfortunately, the transparency intended by the Act has not materialized in a way that is clear and easily accessible to voters.

In order to restore transparency, AB 1648 establishes additional disclosure responsibilities. First, the bill requires that the three largest funders of political advertisements over $10,000 be clearly identified on all media of advertisements. It also requires that campaign committees create a website where the largest funders are listed and which can be accessed by the public at all times.

The bill also requires that all advertisements that are authorized by a candidate include a statement to that effect by the candidate, and that those that are not authorized disclose the three largest contributors.

Additionally, the bill requires slate mailers show whether the mailer organization committee received payment for the inclusion of a candidate or a ballot measure in the mailer. These reforms are vital to ensure that the campaign process is transparent and that voters are not deliberately deceived.