Palo Alto fundraisers support DISCLOSE Act

Former Senator Russ Feingold speaks on campaign finance reform

Dozens of Palo Altans turned out to a fundraiser Saturday, May 19, to support a bill that would increase funding disclosure requirements for political ads in California.

Assembly bill 1648, the California DISCLOSE Act, would require that the top three contributors to a political advertisement be listed on the ad itself and that the ad include a link to a website that contains the names of its top 10 contributors.

The bill would apply to all television ads, print ads, mass mailers, radio ads and websites. Though it would not affect federal political ads, it would include ads related to local, county and state elections.

Attendees of the event included U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Menlo Park), and assemblymembers Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park). But the key speaker at the fundraiser was former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the founder of Progressives United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to limited corporate power in politics.

Feingold framed the bill's passage in the context of the larger national struggle related to campaign finance reform and effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010, which proscribed the government from restricting independent campaign expenditures from corporations and unions.

He said the passage of bills such as AB 1648 in places of influence like California would create the kind of energy necessary to overturn the controversial court decision.

"California is the largest state in terms of population and money," he said. "This bill would be a significant victory and a galvanizer for the entire national effort."

The bill is a direct response to a nearly identical bill, AB 1148, which was introduced in the assembly last year but received only 52 votes -- missing the 2/3 votes majority requirement by two votes.

California Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), the bill's principal co-author, said he was optimistic about AB 1648's passage.

"It's been tweaked, and we've refined it a bit better with lots of strong co-authors," he said.

The main difference between the two bills is that AB 1148 required that only the top five funders of an ad be listed on the committee website instead of the top 10.

Feingold answered questions on a variety of issues, including the recall effort of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and impending standoff of raising the federal debt ceiling, but he focused his speech on the historical significance of today's campaign financing climate.

"The wisdom of the nation back to the gilded age has always been that the money you spend at the store on gas or toothpaste should not be spent on the campaign of a candidate you do not support," he said.

Attendees of the fundraiser at the Palo Alto home of Stephanie Grossman were asked to donate between $100 and $1,000 to support the bill.


Like this comment
Posted by Lawman
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2012 at 10:16 am

What are the names of the top ten contributors to the fundraiser in support of the bill?

Like this comment
Posted by Redwood
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2012 at 10:26 am

Lawman - took about ten seconds to find who supports the DISCLOSE Act - the California Clean Money Campaign.

How long will it take you to find the top three funders for all the other initiatives, without this becoming law?

Web Link

Web Link

Transparency is a good thing, especially when buying politicians.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2012 at 11:21 am

It's a start. Facing a tough climb though. Politicians are sure to put up a huge fight to quash this bill designed to expose their real legislative incentives.

Like this comment
Posted by McCain/Feingold believer
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

Lawman: The invitation to the fundraiser listed all of the donors over $100, which is more than Citizens United requires.

130 local Californians who attended this fundraiser believe that money should not buy political office. Less than 100 billionaires in the United States are buying our country.

Like this comment
Posted by Arch Conwervative
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I assume that this also includes unions and PACs.

Like this comment
Posted by public financing
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm

It does.

Start with this, move to public financing, with mandatory lower costs for public financed ads, over the public spectrum.

TV ads warp the financing requirements, also drive up everyones ad budgets in election years, from Anhuiser Busch to Exxon.

No CoC money, no union or pac money. Self finance? No public money.

Like this comment
Posted by Lawman
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

Redwood and McCain/Feingold believer, for the record, I am totally in favor of the DISCLOSE Act. However, I found it ironical that the Weekly's story about it talked about the local fundraiser but did not mention the top 10 or even 3 contributors, either by name or amount, while emphasizing the importance of transparency. And the links you provided did not provide any info responsive to my inquiry.

Like this comment
Posted by Redwood
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2012 at 11:02 am

Lawman - so, nothing illegal here, just disappointment on the reporting, and if any actual reporters (rather than just transcribing a press release), the reporters failing to ask appropriate questions.

Yes, disappointing. Irony, or lack of reporting?

At a larger level, it is a catch-22, in these days of Citizens United and it's almost unlimited cash from billionaires to support their issues (whether fringe candidates, anti-lawyer, anti-union, anti-regulations, etc..), that a lot of donors to clean money campaigns and elections may have to bite their tongue and contribute to c3's and c4's just to keep the issues from being swamped by the PAC's against fair, free and clean elections.

Before the whining starts about union money, if you're going to make that claim, back it up with facts, from THIS election cycle, not pre-CU cycles like 2008. Unions are getting swamped this cyccle from the billionaires, much of it not transparent but hidden in 503(c)4's.

I do like the post above that references cost of TV ads, when those ads run over a public asset such as the public spectrum. It's a near impossible task to implement, but that would be a key component to clean money and lowering the cost of elections.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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