Monday, 14 June 2021

Baumann: Shine a light on dark money

Last year, the California Clean Money Campaign scored a victory for democracy when the DISCLOSE ACT (AB 249) was signed into law, requiring that broadcast and print political advertisements clearly identify who paid for the ads.

This year, the California Clean Money Campaign is back with a new bill, AB 2188, the Social Media DISCLOSE ACT.

AB 2188 will require online platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter to put a disclosure link on every ad about California ballot measures or candidates, a link to a page listing the ad's top three funders. Additionally, social media platforms will be required to keep a database of all political ads, so everyone can see who has been trying to buy our votes.

Like last year's print-and-tv DISCLOSE ACT, this year's bill does not allow fabricated names of so-called "action groups" – the ad must reveal real names.

For example, instead of "Paid for by the Patriotic Citizens Who Love Freedom, Apple Pie and the Constitution PAC," you would know that the ad was "Paid for by Big Oil Inc., Global Fracking Industrial Inc. and Fossil Fuel Conglomerate Inc."

Last week, the new social media bill successfully passed out of the Assembly Elections Committee with a 5-2 vote in favor. The room was packed with citizens who demand greater transparency in our political process. (There was an audible gasp from committee members when almost the entire room rose to express support for AB 2188!)

It took years to pass the first DISCLOSE ACT, and it only passed after the pernicious influence of dark money on our election process made headlines in 2016. We cannot afford to spend as much time waiting for the Social Media DISCLOSE ACT – we need our elected representatives to sign this year's bill into law as soon as possible.

Knowing who is trying to buy our votes is a vital piece of information. We must end the ability of giant corporations or other entities to hide behind deviously named "action groups." This is why I support the California Clean Money Campaign.

Deb Baumann lives in Upper Lake, Calif.

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