Senate Bill 1360, California’s Disclosure Clarity Act, jointly authored by Senators Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana), and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), cleared its first legislative hurdle this morning.
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.
“People shouldn’t have to pause their TVs or computers, squint, or run to the kitchen for their reading glasses to determine who is funding political ads,” saidSenator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana). “Transparency in our political process is more important than ever and voters deserve to be treated respectfully.”
Following an election in which more money was spent on ballot propositions than ever in California history, Senators Umberg and Allen are authoring 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 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.
SB 1360 is backed by 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.”
SB 1360 was approved by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee in a party-line vote of 4-1. It will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.