Thursday, October 10, 2019
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill requiring “paid for by” disclosures on mass campaign text messages, the bill’s author, Assembly member Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, announced yesterday.
Newsom signed her bill on Tuesday. The legislator commented:
“AB 201, the ‘Text Message DISCLOSE Act,’ represents a balanced approach to getting dark money out of our politics. It provides California voters with information about who is paying for campaign text messages without burdening the ability to communicate a political message.
“Voters deserve to know which entities are paying for the campaign media that is being sent to them, and the reforms provided by AB 201 accomplish that goal.”
Under current law, the only mass campaign text messages that are regulated are those sent by ballot measure committees or independent expenditures. Those regulations were set to expire on Jan. 1; passage of SB 201 blocks the sunsetting of them.
Government Code §84504.7 is amended by the act to mandates that any entity sending mass campaign text messages in support of or opposition to a candidate or ballot measure to include a “paid for by” disclosure, “followed by either the name of the committee, or a hyperlink or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for an internet website” containing prescribed disclosures.
One mandated disclosure is that a message from a committee must “include the text ‘Top funders:’ followed by the names of the top two contributors of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more to the committee paying for the advertisement, separated by ‘&’ or ‘and’.”
The California Labor Federation opposed the measure, saying:
“Political text messages are a cheap and efficient way for grass roots organizations, relatively unknown candidates, and labor unions to inform voters about the issues and candidates that affect them. Campaign disclosure requirements and efforts to expose dark money in politics are critically important but requiring political text messages to include both a hyperlink and top funders will reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of this tool that is often used by campaigns with fewer resources.”
SB 201 was one of 17 election-related bills signed on Tuesday. Newsom said in a statement:
“Voting is the foundation of our democracy. It is critical that we expand access to the ballot box for all eligible voters, while strengthening the integrity of our elections. The package of bills I’m signing today represent a forward-looking, responsible approach to improving elections in California.”
Also expressing pleasure yesterday over a bill having been signed was Assembly member Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, author of AB 1497 which amends Government Code §12927 to prohibit discrimination in short-term housing.
“There’s a history of discriminatory behavior in housing and now we’re seeing it happen in hosting platforms” Holden said, pointing, in particular to Airbnb, an online service. “Our laws intended to prevent discrimination must adapt to changes in technology, especially as it relates to short-term hosting platforms which are becoming increasingly popular.”
“AB 1497 ensures that technology continues to bring us together and is not used as a tool to further divide us.”
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