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Edit  DeleteExpires Sep 12, 2016

AB 700 (Gomez, Levine), the California DISCLOSE Act, will dramatically improve disclosure on ballot measure ads and ads about candidates about who has paid for the ad. Knowing who the true source of funds for ads will prevent voters from being deceived about who is truly paying for it, help voters better evaluate the credibility and content of ads, and promote greater confidence in the electoral process.

Ads paid for by candidate committees and political parties do not have to comply with the new rules.

1. Requires Clear and Prominent Disclosure of Top Contributors to Political Ads

AB 700 requires that state and local ballot measure ads and independent expenditure ads about candidates to clearly and prominently list their top three true contributors of $50,000 or more (one for radio ads and robocalls). It uses the initiative's new earmarking rules to ensure that contributions that are meant for ballot measures or candidates must be disclosed if they're among the top three even if the contributions were passed through multiple layers of committees.

 

TV ads (Section 84504.   Replaces fine print disclosures with a bold listing of the top three contributors on the bottom 1/3 of the screen on a solid black background for five seconds (ten seconds for ads longer than 30 seconds), plus the name of the committee paying. If the committee paying for the ad spent more than $1 million, then it must also provide a link to the page on the FPPC website listing its top 10 contributors that is required by SB 27.

  • Includes prescriptive requirements for disclosure layout, font size, type, background color, underlining, and capitalization to stop advertisers from taking advantage of ambiguous rules as they currently do to make disclosures hard to read.
  • The name of each of the top three contributors must appear on a separate line in a contrasting color at exactly 4% of the height of screen.
  •   To make them easier to read, disclosures shall not appear in all capital letters (Section 84503).
  • Same amount of time and space as current law, but infinitely more effective at showing top contributors.

Radio ads and robocalls (Section 84504): Replaces confusing speed reader disclosure with a requirement to read a simple and clear disclosure:  "Paid for by <Committee name>.  This committee has major funding by

<Top Contributor>. Ads supporting or opposing candidates that are paid for by independent expenditures must also include the standard Section 84506.5 statement that it was not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.

  • Disclosures must be "read in a clearly spoken manner and in a pitch and tone substantially similar to the rest of the advertisement ".
  • Disclosures will not have to name the top contributor if the ad names each of them and identifies the speaker as speaking on behalf of them.
  • Usually shorter than current law disclosures (which can take 12-14 seconds) because it does not require committees' economic interests or major contributors to be read separately as part of their name. But more effective because contributors are not obscured by speed-reading gobbledygook.

Print Ads and Mass Mailings (Section 84504.2): Must clearly list their top three contributors and the name of the committee paying for the ad in a white box with black print. If the committee spends more than $1 million, then it must also provide a link to the page on the FPPC website listing its top 10 contributors that is required by SB 27. Ads supporting or opposing candidates that are paid for by independent expenditures must also include the standard Section 84506.5 statement that it was not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.

  • The name of each of the top three contributors must appear on a separate line in black Arial type in at least 10 point for printed advertisements designed to be individually distributed, including but not limited to mailers, flyers and door hangers.
  • Type on printed advertisement that is larger than those designed to be individually distributed, including but not limited to yard signs or billboards, shall be in Aria! type at least 10% of the height of the ad, and printed on a solid background with sufficient contrast that is easily readable by the average person.
  • To make them easier to read, disclosures shall not appear in all capital letters (Section 84503)
  • Disclosures that are 20 square inches or less are allowed to list only one top contributor. 

Electronic Media Advertisements (Section 84504.3): Unless impracticable, online ads and other similar electronic media communications must include the name of the committee and the top three contributors. Ads supporting or opposing candidates that are paid for by independent expenditures must also include the standard Section 84506.5 statement that it was not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.

  • The in a type size and font that is easily readable by the average viewer, visible for a period of at least four seconds and contrasts with the background so as to be easily readable by the average person.
  •  Ads must also hyperlink to a website that includes the disclosure text regardless of whether it is practical to put the written disclosure on the ad.
  • To make them easier to read, disclosures shall not appear in all capital letters (Section 84503)
  • Audio-only electronic media ads must comply with the same disclosure rules as radio ads.

2. Creates New Earmarking Rules so Earmarked Contributors aren't Hidden on ads: 

AB 700 requires ads to disclose as part of their top contributors any contributions that were "earmarked."Definition of "Top Contributors" in Section 84501(c)(3):  "Top contributors" to be disclosed on ads means "the persons from whom the committee paying for an advertisement has received its three highest cumulative contributions of $50,000 or more." But if "a contributor appears' to qualify as a top contributor but received earmarked funds to make the contribution, the person(s) or committee(s) that earmarked the funds and gave those  funds to the contributor shall instead be disclosed as the top contributor if they qualified as such."

 Funds are considered earmarked under Section 84501(c)(3) in the following circumstances:

(A)    The contributor solicited and received the funds from donors for the purpose of making a contribution to the committee paying for the advertisement.

(B)    The funds were given to the contributor subject to a condition, agreement or understanding with the donor that all or a portion would be used to make a contribution to the committee paying for the advertisement including any circumstance where the donor identifies the committee as a potential recipient of the contribution and the committee in fact receives all or a portion of the donor's contribution.

(C)    The contributor had existing funds from a donor and a subsequent agreement or understanding was reached with the donor that all or a portion of the funds would be used to contribute to the committee paying for the advertisement including any circumstance where the donor identifies the committee as a potential recipient of the contribution and the committee in fact receives all or a portion of the donor's contribution.

Nancy Abbey2016-09-19T20:07:11Z
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