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Tougher campaign finance rules fail in Assembly

January 31, 2012 |  3:30 pm

Brownley

A bill requiring more prominent disclosure of political donors stalled in the California Assembly on Tuesday.

Under the proposal, television advertisements would include three seconds of a black screen listing the top donors supporting the message. Similar disclosure would be required on print advertisements or campaign mailers.

“The public is frustrated and fed up with wealthy donors who manipulate elections through anonymous campaign messages," said the bill's sponsor, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), in a statement. "Voters deserve to know clearly who are behind the ads.”

Because modifying the state’s Political Reform Act requires a two-thirds vote, 52 yes votes weren’t enough to pass Brownley’s bill. Twenty-six lawmakers voted against the bill. One Republican voted for the bill; the rest voted against it.

Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) said the bill goes too far in its disclosure requirements and could "run afoul of the 1st Amendment."

Quoting the U.S. Supreme Court, Wagner said, "Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority." He added, "This bill takes us in the wrong direction."

Photo: Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), who sponsored the campaign finance bill, speaks with a colleague in the Assembly chamber last year. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

RELATED:

Jan. 30: Jerry Brown urged to take control of California's campaign finance database

Dec. 9: CalAccess database for campaign money crashes again ... and again

Oct. 13: State panel allows campaign contributions by text message

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian

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