Governor Brown Signs DISCLOSE Act, Increasing Transparency in Campaign Funding

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sacramento – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California DISCLOSE Act (AB 249), a landmark bill that gives California the strongest campaign disclosure law in the nation.

“No more fine print,” said the bill’s author, Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin. “California voters will now be able to make informed decisions, based on honest information about who the true funders are of campaign ads. This transparency is critical to our democracy and I am proud that California has taken this historic first step to shine the light on “dark money”. Hopefully this will encourage others to follow suit.”

The grassroots support from good government groups was critical to the bill’s success. “With the quiet gesture of a signature, Governor Brown has loudly proclaimed California to be the national leader on the most important issue of our era: taking our democracy back from the special interests and restoring it to the people," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, primary supporter of AB 249.  "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 249 pass an enduring debt of gratitude."

CA Common Cause also advocated strongly for the bill.  “Every voter has a right to know who is trying to influence our votes and our Legislature,” said Nicolas Heidorn, Legislative Affairs Director at California Common Cause. “While Congress and federal agencies fail to act to require more transparency in the post-Citizens United era, the Disclose Act will continue California’s leadership in building a strong and transparent democracy.”

“Americans across the political spectrum favor stronger disclosure laws,” said Executive Director Kathay Feng of California Common Cause. “The California DISCLOSE Act is a common-sense proposal that will increase transparency, which is why it passed out of the Legislature with strong bipartisan support.”

Robert Stern a principal co-author of the Political Reform of 1974 said, “I am pleased the Governor signed AB 249. It represents a major advancement in disclosure on ads for both ballot measures and independent expenditures for and against candidates.”

California has seen campaign spending increase exponentially in recent years with over $1 billion spent on measures between 2012 and 2016 and before AB 249, donors could hide behind layers of misleading organization names and campaigns were able to conceal their top donors. The DISCLOSE Act strengthens existing disclosure requirements and now, regardless of whether they are paid for by primarily formed or general purpose committees, television, radio and print ads for ballot measures and independent expenditures will be required to clearly display their top three funders.  

“The success of this legislation is the result of many people coming together for the good of all Californians,” Mullin said. “The previous authors and co-authors of this bill, legislative leadership and the people of California all deserve credit for this bill becoming law. Transparency in elections is critical to our democracy.”

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Kevin Mullin represents the 22nd Assembly District and is the Speaker pro Tempore of the California State Assembly. He chairs the Select Committee on Biotechnology and serves on the following committees:  Budget, Budget Subcommittee #3 on Resources and Transportation, Business and Professions, Elections and Redistricting, and Revenue and Taxation. The 22nd district includes the cities of Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Foster City, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, portions of South San Francisco and the San Mateo County Coastside communities of Montara and Moss Beach.