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Campaign finance: New state law aims to increase transparency

The law affects independent expenditure committees that fund ads for candidates and measures, especially local ones

A state Assembly bill now signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown will go into effect in January 2013, requiring more transparency by independent expenditure committees that fund ads for candidates and measures, especially local ones.

The Assembly bill 481 was sponsored by State Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and was passed by a two-thirds state Assembly majority.

"It is critical for our democracy that people understand who is supporting campaigns," Gordon said at a press conference in Sacramento Monday.

The bill requires more record keeping of independent expenditures made on the behalf of candidates or measures in local elections. It also requires that each independent expenditure committee have a principal officer, someone to take responsibility for the committee's actions even if it is disbanded soon after an election, according to Gordon's office. Further, it requires that independent expenditure committees and donors verify that they have used their own funds for the ads.

AB 481 requires that ads paid for by independent expenditure committees and donors who give $50,000 or more disclose themselves within the ad. While current law already requires such disclosure for broadcast and mail ads, it does not yet apply to print ads or billboards, Gordon's office said.

Breena Kerr, Bay City News Service

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