If you have read many of my articles, you will notice that my general tone towards California is relatively negative. However, every rule has as an exception, and here is that exception. I am in full support of California’s efforts to require political ads to list the top donors paying for the ad.  Large donations from corporations, labor unions, and select wealthy people can largely influence the information that is presented to the public, and while it is legal for them to make the donations, the general public deserves to know whose donations are funding advertisements.  I mean, let’s be honest, the current political environment is as transparent as the former Soviet Union.

According to Assembly Bill 249, campaign committees would be required to disclose their top three donors over $50,000 for any television advertisement or mailing campaign. Additionally, radio advertisements would be required to disclose their two largest benefactors.

In response to this bill, all I can say is it’s about time.  Misinformation runs rampant during election seasons, and typically, it is difficult to determine who is actually paying for the political ads due to the creation of political action committees, commonly known as PACs or super PACs.  This topic transcends political parties and threatens the very nature of our country’s political fabric.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or whichever party you identify with, the increasing prevalence of massive donations by companies, organizations, and one percenters has shifted the focus of elected officials from the general public who elected them to the few parties who make sizable donations.  And when that happens, the general public loses every time.

To put political campaign funding ito perspective, an analysis was performed by the Brennan Center For Justice to see how Senate campaign financing was effected by Citizens United, the landmark Supreme Court case which permitted organizations to provide unlimited funding to candidates via PACs and super PACs.  According to the Brennan Center,  spending by outside groups has over doubled since the passage of Citizens United in 2010 – bringing the total spend in 2014 to $486 million for Senate candidates alone.   Of the 10 competitive Senate races reviewed during the analysis, outside groups on average accounted for 47 percent of the spending while the candidates accounted for 41 percent, and the political parties only accounted 12 percent.  Furthering the alarming figures, it was also noted that across all federal elections since the 2010 Citizens United decision, super PACs have spent over $1 billion.  Of that $1 billion, 195 people, along with their spouses, accounted for $600 million of those funds.  Just think about that for a moment.

While it appears that donations from companies, labor unions, and other interested organizations are here to stay, at least the California law would allow people to see who is paying for the advertisements.  The bill is currently on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

{Via The Sacramento Bee}

Image “Citizens United Carpet Bombing Democracy – Cartoon” by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0