Tom Umberg

Disclosure Clarity Act introduced by Senators Tom Umberg and Ben Allen

Following an election in which more money was spent on ballot propositions than ever in California history, Senators Tom Umberg and Ben Allen have introduced SB 1360, the Disclosure Clarity Act, to counteract the flood of ads and initiative, referendum, and recall petitions that skirt California’s landmark California DISCLOSE Act in order to hide from voters who really paid for them.

SB 1360 will give California the first law in the nation to require online image and banner ads to clearly and prominently show their top funder on the ad itself. It will also require formatting changes to make television and video ad disclosures more readable and stop committees from purposefully using extremely long committee names to make it difficult for voters to read the top three funders in the five seconds the disclosure is on the screen.

“Californians deserve to know who is funding political ads no matter what format the ads are in,” said Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana). “That’s why it’s so important to require large online ads to show their top funder on the ad clearly and to stop committees from making it difficult to read the top funders on television and video ads.”

SB 1360 will also ensure that voters approached to sign initiative, referendum, and recall petitions are shown an official list of the top three funders of the circulation. SB 47 (Allen), the Petition DISCLOSE Act, signed into law in 2019, requires that if funders are listed on a separate official top funders sheet circulators must show it to voters, yet many fail to do so.

“The 2017 passage of the California DISCLOSE Act and the 2019 passage of the Petition DISCLOSE Act brought much-needed transparency to political campaign funding in the Golden State,” said Senator Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles), who authored a previous version of SB 1360. “Now we must ensure that campaigners and paid signature-gatherers cannot circumvent the law.”

SB 1360 is introduced with the backing of legislators who led the passage of California’s nation-leading DISCLOSE Act bills. Senators Umberg and Allen plus principal coauthor Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) are all former chairs of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Principal coauthors also include Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin, author of the 2017 California DISCLOSE Act, Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes, author of the 2019 Text Message DISCLOSE Act, Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, author of the current Ballot DISCLOSE Act, and Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi.

“California has passed the strongest disclosure laws for political ads and initiative, referendum, and recall campaigns in the nation. But now some campaigns are flooding the internet with online graphic ads and purposely hiding the ball on other types of ads,” said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, sponsor of SB 1360. “That’s why we’re so thrilled that Senators Umberg and Allen have introduced SB 1360 to ensure that voters know who is really funding campaigns no matter the type of ad or petition.”

The bill will be assigned to the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee and will be heard sometime in March or April.

This article was released by the Office of Senator Tom Umberg.