The California State Legislature has passed a bill requiring non-profit groups that contribute secret or "dark money" to political campaigns to reveal their secret funders when they spend more than $50,000 in state campaigns in one year, or more than $100,000 over four consecutive years. The measure also requires committees that push for or against ballot measures to release a list of the top 10 contributors who gave $10,000 or more, if they raise at least $1 million.
Governor Jerry Brown, a big proponent of "shedding light on dark money," signed the bill on May 14.
A huge outpouring of support from CWA and union activists, good government groups, MoveOn, the faith community and others pushed the vote forward. More than 40,000 people signed online petitions for SB 27, and more than 1,000 people called their Senators.
The measure is a good step toward transparency and ending the flood of secret money in California elections. The bill also has national implications, because it will require more transparency from non-profit organizations that spend significant amounts on California campaigns. Out-of-state, non-profit groups spent $11 million in California races in the 2012 elections, without revealing their donors.
CWA supports state and national legislation like the federal DISCLOSE Act, which would increase transparency of independent groups' campaign spending. That bill couldn't overcome a Republican-led filibuster last year. "Disclosing who sponsors and pays for political ads will bring needed transparency to our political system. Allowing big money donors to spread their message in secrecy is clearly the wrong message for our democracy," said CWA President Larry Cohen.
Members of CWA Local 1103's Women's & Equity Committee are helping to lead the local's fight against money in politics.
Local 1103's Women's & Equity Committee helped launch the local's campaign to enlist members of the state legislature in the fight to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Citizen's United and McCutcheon cases.
Beginning next week, New York Local members will be asked to send emails to their Assembly members and Senators, asking them to sign on to a letter to Congress that makes it clear that corporations are not people, money isn't speech and that the U.S. Constitution must reflect this principle.