A proposed bill by introduced by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin would require that groups buying “issue advocacy ads” dealing with legislation to identify themselves and major funders. The bill is Assembly Bill 1217 (AB 1217) and it would create the same sort of disclaimers required in election campaign ads. Currently, these issue advocacy ads about legislation don’t require the same types of disclaimers that are required in election ads about candidates and ballot measure, which means that issue advocacy ads don’t have to disclose the funding source. Current law also requires groups lobbying the California Legislature to disclose expenses such as advertising in routine quarterly filings with the secretary of state. Assemblyman Mullin state the following regarding the proposed bill,
This is about well-funded, sophisticated special interests.
AB 1217 would apply to groups spending over $10,000 a year on advertisements about pending legislation or regulation. If passed, it would require a disclaimer to be attached to the bottom of these ads that discloses the group behind the ad as well as its top three donors, but only if the donor has donated over $10,000. Proponents of AB 1217 argue that it would be the first legislation in the nation to address what they believe is an increasing issue in the world of influence peddling. Critics of AB 1217 argue that it would actually discourage grassroots activism, especially when it comes to controversial issues. AB 1217 has passed the Assembly and is currently in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee waiting to be heard.