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2018 electionCalifornia Legislature

California lawmakers sign off on new disclosure of campaign donors in ballot measure advertisements

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

New rules to more clearly reveal big donors to California ballot measure campaigns would be required under legislation sent Friday to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The proposal, Assembly Bill 249, was hailed by supporters as a sweeping effort to combat the growing reliance on campaign committees with innocuous sounding names -- the only information often available to voters in campaign advertising.

"The status quo allows donors to hide behind layers of misleading committee names," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), during floor debate on Friday.

Similar proposals stalled in recent legislative sessions. This year's version, if it becomes law, would likely make most of its impact on ballot measure campaigns by requiring advertisements to detail the three largest contributors.

Republican lawmakers said the bill's definition of a donor would create too little disclosure when it comes to the money collected by public employee unions.

"While the intentions of this bill are good, it creates a massive loophole and therefore an unfair playing field," said Assemblyman Matt Harper (R-Huntington Beach).

Whether Brown will sign the bill remains unclear. Last week, the state's campaign watchdog agency raised concerns about whether the law will be too difficult to effectively enforce.

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