A new bill has been introduced by Assemblymembers Jimmy Gomez and Marc Levine called AB (Assembly Bill) 700 which is the 2015 California Disclose Act that would require the top three funders of ballot measure ads to be shown clearly.
In a response from the request of Riverbank City Councilmember Cal Campbell – who in turn had received a request from a Riverbank citizen regarding the consideration of the bill – City Manager Jill Anderson placed it on the agenda for discussion at a Riverbank City Council session.
This bill does not directly affect the City of Riverbank; however, it was discussed by council members because it is a statewide initiative. The council did not take any formal action on the agenda item.
“After reviewing AB 700 very thoroughly, I felt it was a bill I could support and sent a recommendation, along with the citizen’s information, to our city manager requesting it be put on the agenda,” said Campbell. “My intent was to better inform our council on the content of this bill so the council could determine if they would support it as a body.”
The bill requires that the funders disclosed on the ads be the original sources of the contributions to the committee that paid for the ad, even if funders try to hide behind multiple layers of committees or organizations.
Campbell explained that the Disclose Act would apply to television, radio, and print ads as well as mailers and robocalls whether for or against State and local ballot measures. It would apply whether ads are paid for by corporations, PACs, or individuals. “Follow the Money” rules would require ads to report the true corporate, PAC, or individual contributors, and not potentially misleading committee and/or non-profit names. This would allow more transparency in political advertising to the voters.
“After reviewing the bill, the majority of the Riverbank City Council decided the bill should be watched as it continues through the legislature and the language of the bill is finalized,” stated Campbell. “If supported in the future by the council, it would show that the Riverbank City Council feels transparency in elections is important.”
There was a 2014 version of the California Disclose Act that passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 28 to 11 and passed all the Assembly committees.