California leads the nation in social media finance disclosure
Sacramento - Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Social Media DISCLOSE Act (AB 2188), another landmark campaign disclosure bill that makes California a national leader in the area of disclosure in online political ads.
"Last year, AB 249 (the DISCLOSE Act) set the standard for campaign finance disclosure for print, television and radio ads, generated for and against state initiatives and candidates," Mullin said. "AB 2188 extends those tough requirements to social media, giving voters the ability to see the top three funders of political ads on the various social media platforms."
Grassroots support from good government groups was a key to the bill's success. "With Governor Brown signing this landmark follow-up to the California DISCLOSE Act, we start shining a light on secret political money on social media by requiring, for the first time anywhere, that ballot measure ads and outside ads attacking or supporting candidates on social media show their top three funders," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "Every American who cares about democracy owes Governor Brown, Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, and all the bold leaders in the California Legislature of both parties who helped AB 2188 pass an enduring debt of gratitude."
CA Common Cause was also a strong advocate for the bill. "AB 2188 is a powerful extension of the California DISCLOSE Act", said Nicolas Heidorn, Policy Director of California Common Cause. "Social media political ads are increasing every election cycle. This legislation closes a disclosure loophole and provides California voters with important information they want and need by requiring the committee behind the ads to identify their top three funders. When it comes to campaign finance transparency, California continues to lead the way."
Campaign spending in California has steadily increased with each election cycle, with over $1 billion spent on statewide ballot measures between 2012 and 2016. Before the implementation of AB 249, donors could hide behind layers of misleading organization names and top donors could be concealed by campaigns. The DISCLOSE Act strengthened the requirements for disclosing the names of the top three funders of ballot measures and independent expenditures on television, radio and print ads and now AB 2188 extends those same requirements to online platforms.
"This legislation was successful because industry stakeholders listened and responded to the concerns raised about the lack of transparency related to advertising on social media and other online platforms," Mullin added. "Everyone who participated in our discussions demonstrated a commitment to our democracy and to transparency in our elections. As the epicenter of social media technologies, it stands to reason that California would create a strong disclosure template to be replicated by other states, and hopefully (eventually) the federal government."