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Bring on the Sunshine: Help Pass the CA DISCLOSE Act

rachel's picture

It's time for citizens to take back our democracy. The notorious Citizens United ruling not only unleashed a flood of corporate money into the electoral process -- it allowed that money to effectively flow in secret, hiding behind super PACs with innocuous-sounding names like "Californians Against Unfair Taxes." Such money impacts elections in all 50 states, but it is especially damaging in California, where voters must often sort through long lists of initiatives that they may only be familiar with though political advertising.

And it's difficult to tell who sponsors those ads. Vast sums of money are spent each cycle simply educating voters about exactly who is behind the bland names -- letting them know, for example that the "California Jobs Initiative Committee" supporting Prop. 23, which would have rolled back California's historic climate change law, was  funded entirely by out-of-state oil companies.  If we're lucky, media scrutiny and legal action will shine a light on secret money, as it did in tracing $11 million in covert last-minute funds that poured in to support the labor-killing Proposition 32.

But Californians deserve more: Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending on Elections. DISCLOSE. It is time for full transparency in our elections. The California DISCLOSE Act begins that process by ensuring that all political advertisements clearly list their top three donors. The DISCLOSE Act passed the Assembly last year, but failed to pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session.

Let's make sure it passes this year.  State Senators Jerry Hill and Mark Leno have reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act (it has already passed in the Senate), and grassroots activists are working to give it plenty of momentum to ensure its passage in the Assembly.  The California Clean Money Campaign, dedicated to bringing public financing to all levels of government, meets the third Thursday of every month here at Democratic Party Headquarters. As corporate profits soar, and workers' wages stagnate, the time to act is now -- let's take back our democracy before it's too late.

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