AB 700–California DISCLOSE Act

AB 700, the California DISCLOSE Act, is the first bill in the nation to make it illegal for political ads to mislead voters about who’s paying for them.   AB 700 passed the Assembly in an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 60-15 after more than 55,000 Californians signed petitions supporting it.  It is now in the Senate and will next appear in the Senate Elections Committee.  AB 700 would require political advertisements to clearly state the source of the advertisement funding.  The act’s stated goal is:

“It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would implement a California Disclose Act to ensure that advertisements that seek to persuade voters to cast a vote in favor or against ballot measures do not mislead voters as to who is funding the campaign that paid for the advertisement.

AB 700 follows up on a previous failed attempt to enact legislation.  AB 52 was opposed by labor unions, which ultimately lead to its demise.  Opposition still comes from California School Employees Association, AFL-CIO, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (prior version), and Service Employees International Union, California State Council. The opposition states:

During the 2013-14 Regular Session of the legislature, the Governor enacted Chapter 16, Statutes of 2014 (SB 27/Correa) and Chapter 9, Statutes of 2014 (AB 800/Gordon), that created new requirements to prevent individuals, organizations, or other[s], from hiding behind a veil of secrecy when engaging in political activity in California, and allows detailed audits of campaign committees during an election cycle, respectively.

Each of these statutes have worked as intended? AB 700 would propose to impose new and untenable restrictions that are so one-sided on their effect among specific groups engaged in political activity that they might be deemed unconstitutional, as noted in the Committee’s analysis of SB 52. In addition, AB 700 would significantly interfere, or upend the success of the new statutory requirements imposed by SB 27 and AB 800, that have remedied the lack of disclosure in political advertisements.

Examples of how AB 700 would change the face of advertising, look at the following before/after adds.  The ads are actual screenshots from 2010 followed by how the same shots would look if the ads had to be compliant to AB 700:

Before AB 700 (1)

After AB 700 (1)
Before AB 700 (2)

After AB 700 (2)

For more information about Truth in Campaign Advertising, go to the http://www.yesfairelections.org/ website.

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