Bill by Assemblymember Gloria to Increase Transparency in Local Elections Passes State Senate
The Public’s Right-to-Know Act to Shed Light on Special Interest Funding of Local Measures & Referendums Sent to Governor
SACRAMENTO, CA – Legislation authored by California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) that would shed light on the special interest financers of local ballot measures and referendums cleared its final hurdle today. AB 187, known as the Public’s Right-to-Know Act, passed the California State Senate with bipartisan support by a vote of 27-to-11 and will now be sent to the Governor.
“Ballot measures and referendums are designed to serve voters, not special interests. Sometimes voters have been deceived by special interests who disguise their identity as well as their motives. AB 187 will empower voters to know who is behind every local ballot measure and referendum thereby allowing them to make informed decisions at the ballot box,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “AB 187 will go a long way to protect our democratic process and, as we head into an election year, I believe it is imperative that Governor Brown signs this bill into law.”
AB 187 would mandate general purpose committees formed to support multiple state candidates or ballot measures disclose with their local filing officer each time a contribution of $5,000 or more is made toward the qualification or opposition of local initiatives and referendums. The disclosure would need to be filed within 10 business days.
Under current state law, general purpose committees are only required to file disclosures whenever $5,000 is spent toward the qualification or opposition of state ballot measures. AB 187 adds local measures to that requirement.
Assemblymember Gloria, while serving on the San Diego City Council, introduced similar disclosure requirements for local campaign committees after corporate special interests successfully funded a referendum effort against local initiatives such as City of San Diego’s Minimum Wage and Earned Sick Leave Ordinance and the Barrio Logan Community Plan.
In both instances, voters’ signatures were gathered under a false pretense and voters were not able to discern who was financing each initiative as the funding source of the petition was not disclosed until after enough signatures were obtained. Once voters learned of the true nature of the petition, hundreds wanted to recall their signatures, but it was too late.
AB 187 was the first piece of legislation introduced by Assemblymember Gloria following his election in December 2016. It is also his first bill to be sent to the Governor. The Governor has twelve days to either sign or veto the bill.