Governor Brown Signs One Disclosure Bill (SB 594) and Vetoes Another (SB 3)
This month showed both the challenges and progress revealing hidden Big Money donors in California. Governor Brown vetoed a disclosure bill we told you about, yet he signed another. Plus, early next year we face our highest hurdle yet on big disclosure bills like the California DISCLOSE Act.
Show you stand with the California Clean Money Campaign in our fight for campaign disclosure:
Mixed News: Governor vetoes Sunshine in Campaigns Act bill (SB 3), but requests action
We asked you to support SB 3, a bill to begin replacing California’s outmoded online lobbying and campaign finance disclosure system, and you did!
Yet, despite hundreds of phone calls, over 8,100 petition signatures, and an editorial by the Los Angeles Times urging him to sign, Governor Brown vetoed SB 3. Authored by Senators Leland Yee and Ted Lieu, and sponsored by California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California, SB 3 was the first part of the Sunshine in Campaigns Act to pass the legislature.
Governor Brown’s veto message called SB 3’s requirement that campaign treasurers take an online training course “a costly and unnecessary addition to the extensive training and outreach that the Commission already provides.” We, of course, disagree.
We do agree with one thing he said. He acknowledged that “the current system — widely viewed as outdated and cumbersome — needs upgrading.” That’s for sure.
The Governor’s veto is very disappointing, yet there is good news. Your activism and the legislature’s passage of SB 3 got the Governor’s attention. He has directed the Government Operations Agency to consult with the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Secretary of State to make recommendations to improve California’s campaign disclosure system.
It’s not SB 3, but it’s a step in the right direction. We and our partners at Common Cause and the League of Women Voters will be watching closely.
Good News: Governor signs non-profit campaign disclosure bill (SB 594)
You might not have heard much about SB 594, but it’s an important step towards increased transparency in campaigns authored by Senator Jerry Hill and endorsed by organizations ranging from the California Professional Firefighters and Planned Parenthood to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The great news is that Governor Brown signed SB 594!
The California Clean Money Campaign supported SB 594 because it requires non-profit organizations which receive significant taxpayer dollars to clearly disclose the sources of money they spend on campaigns. The more funding a non-profit receives from taxpayers, the more important it is for the public to see their private funders when they try to influence elections.
A key part of SB 594 is that it prohibits non-profits from spending on campaigns the fees they earn from the sale of taxpayer-subsidized bonds — fees that can amount to millions of dollars a year. The use of taxpayer dollars on campaigns is already banned, so this is an important clarification of existing law.
The wide range of endorsers for SB 594 led to rare nearly unanimous support in the legislature, with the Assembly passing it on a vote of 72-3 and the Senate passing it unanimously.
California DISCLOSE Act and the rest of the Sunshine in Campaigns Act
The signing of SB 594 was a good first step to reveal hidden spending in political campaigns. But it addressed only non-profits that accept significant taxpayer funds. Starting in January, we’ll be fighting bigger battles for disclosure bills that go further.
One key bill is SB 27, which addresses ALL non-profits, no matter how they’re funded. SB 27, authored by Senator Lou Correa, requires all non-profits that spend significant amounts in California campaigns to report the contributions behind that spending to the Secretary of State. This will close a huge “dark money” loophole.
And SB 2, the third bill in the Sunshine in Campaigns Act, will require more disclosure on slate mailers, and require candidates to stand by their ads. It’s authored by Senators Ted Lieu and Leland Yee and sponsored by California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California.
The biggest fight of all will be for SB 52, the California DISCLOSE Act. SB 52 is the bill that will ensure voters know who’s trying to buy their votes by requiring political ads to clearly show their top three funders — on the ads themselves. It is authored by Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign.
Imagine what a difference that will make — and how much opposition it’s likely to face from special interests who want to stay hidden from voters.
Actions to support real disclosure
We’re building the support needed to pass a game-changing reform like the California DISCLOSE Act. Together we’ve built a movement with well over 350 organizations and leaders who have already endorsed SB 52 (see them here) and over 30,000 Californians who’ve signed petitions. We’ll have to do a lot more to get it passed, but with your help, we can.
If you’re on Facebook, then show you stand for real disclosure by “liking” the California Clean Money Campaign page. “Liking” and sharing our posts makes a big difference:
Download petitions to print and other materials here.
Thank you for your commitment to Clean Money and Fair Elections. Together, we will bring a democracy that is truly of, by, and for the people.
President, California Clean Money Campaign