California Common Cause Applauds New Fppc Rules

Media Contact:

October 18, 2010

Katie Fleming (916) 443-1792

California Common Cause Applauds New FPPC Rules

Sacramento, CA – The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) last week voted to require much needed disclosure during election season. As a result of a recent Supreme Court decision (Citizens United vs.FEC), the FPPC felt it was time to clarify a decision from 2003 when they voted to “suspend enforcement” of a law until they received clarification from a court.

“We’re happy to see that the public will know who is influencing our elections, especially after clever word play kept much of that influence outside public scrutiny,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.

The law says that people or groups that “expressly advocate” for the election or defeat of a candidate or ballot measure have to tell us who is funding the advertising. But before today, the definition of what constitutes expressly advocating was limited to certain phrases, including “vote for” and “vote against.” By avoiding these, political operatives could evade disclosure laws.

The second part of this law that has been suspended until now says that an advertisement is subject to disclosure laws “when taken as a whole, the message unambiguously urges a particular result in an election.” This at once expands the sunlight of disclosure, and creates new opportunity for evasion.

“The word “unambiguously” means anyone can still make an ad to influence an election, but that could be interpreted to have another purpose, and not have to tell us who they are,” said Katie Fleming, policy advocate for California Common Cause.

California Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring an open, honest, and accountable government, also working to strengthen public participation and ensuring that political processes serve the public interest, rather than the special interests.