A Chance to Know Who Really Pays for Political Ads

February 27th, 2016 No Comments »


  • Every ad for or against a ballot measure or candidate clearly disclosing the top three actual donors of $50K or more on the ad itself – not just a misleading committee name.
  • Enhanced collection and accessibility of campaign finance data through the Secretary of State’s website.
  • The banning of gifts from lobbyists and their clients.
  • A waiting period of two years before elected officials can accept revolving-door job offers to become lobbyists.
  • A citizen’s right to campaign finance disclosure written into the California State Constitution.

These are some of the reforms in store for California if the Voters Right to Know Act, now being circulated as an initiative on a petition, becomes law.

You probably know the damage that’s been done to our democracy since the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United decision equating money with speech: billionaires and other moneyed interests spending unlimited amounts – most of it hidden, so-called “dark money” – to pass or defeat ballot measures and buy elections.

No matter which issue you care about – environment, health care, education, gun violence, food and water safety, workers’ rights, civil rights, fair taxes and regulations – your voice is being drowned out by the roar of dark money. A constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United could take years, but we can stop hidden spending now.

As a volunteer who has been working for five long years, unsuccessfully, to pass the California DISCLOSE Act via the Legislature, I am thrilled at the introduction of the Voters Right to Know Act. It will do everything that the DISCLOSE Act would have, and more, to shine light on big money in California elections and fight corruption. It’s time to bypass the compromised legislators and take it directly to the voters, who overwhelmingly want more disclosure of political spending.

The proponent and major funder of the Voters’ Right to Know Act is Jim Heerwagen, advisor to startups and member of several non-profit boards. It’s also sponsored by California Clean Money Campaign. Principal authors are Bob Stern, co-author of the Political Reform Act of 1974, and Gary Winuk, Chief of the Enforcement Division at the Fair Political Practices Commission from 2009 to 2015.

Before the fight to pass it can begin, the Voters Right to Know initiative needs 585,407 qualifying signatures to place it on the November ballot. Please sign the petition (not more than once!). If you would like to help by circulating one or more (5-signature) petitions, contact me at 415-648-6740 or jonieisen@sbcglobal.net

— Joni Eisen

Update: The CA DISCLOSE Act (AB 700) now with the exact same disclosure language as the Voters Right to Know initiative, has passed the Assembly and now goes to the Senate. The threat of a voter initiative has put the pressure on the Legislature! Let’s get this thing on the ballot.

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