Transparency finally a bipartisan issue? California DISCLOSE Act gets 9 GOP votes!

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disclose act logoTwo years ago, last time the California DISCLOSE Act was working its way through the state legislature, and was stymied in the Senate by all Republicans including our own Huff, Walters and Wyland, I wrote a piece angrily entitled “Why Do Republicans Hate Transparency?”  At the end of the piece I tried my hand at providing an answer:

“[Maybe Republicans hate transparency because] the interests they represent (in Sacramento and Washington at least) are ones that require secrecy because they are RIGHTLY REVILED BY THE PUBLIC:  your big energy billionaires, your polluters, your alcohol and tobacco, your insurance and bankers.  What am I missing?”

I’m happy to see that this time around, I can drop that provocative question:  the DISCLOSE Act sailed through the assembly with a whopping 60 votes including 9 Republicans.  I had to see which of those Republicans were from this county so I could compliment and thank them – I was kind of expecting them to maybe be Matt Harper and Bill Brough, whom we got to compliment and thank for breaking with their GOP colleagues in supporting an end to civil asset forfeiturePero no – those two voted AGAINST Disclose.  Only one of our OC assembly Republicans voted in favor of transparency.  You’ll have a hard time guessing which one.

You didn’t guess.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

ling ling changIt was Ling Ling Chang.

Interesting.  I mean, that’s the first interesting thing I’m aware of her ever doing.  Does anyone know her?  Did she make a mistake? I could give her office a call tomorrow, but does anyone know 1.  Does she have a good record on these sort of issues?  2.  What caused her to break with most of her colleagues to support this bill?  and 3.  Does this mean she will now be open and transparent about her education?

And now we have to also ask the rest of our county’s Republicans – Travis Allen, Matt Harper, Young Kim, Bill Brough (as well as Oceanside’s usually decent Rocky Chavez, now running for US Senate) why THEY voted AGAINST a bill that would do the following:

“AB 700 requires the top three funders of ballot measure ads to be shown clearly and unambiguously on the ads themselves.  Most importantly, it requires that the funders disclosed on ads be the original sources of the contributions to the committee that paid for the ad, even if funders try to hide behind multiple layers of committees or organizations…

“The need for serious reform of disclosure on political ads is skyrocketing.  Over $640 million was spent on ballot measures alone in the last two election cycles in California according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.  Most of it was spent by committees hiding their true funders by using misleading names like “Stop Special Interest Money Now” or “Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs”.  For 2016, billionaires have already pledged to spend nearly $1 billion nationally, most of it hidden behind Dark Money groups.

“Californians from all major political parties have overwhelmingly stated their support for greater disclosure.  A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California in October 2013 found 84 percent of likely California voters favored legislation to increase public disclosure of funding sources in initiative campaigns.  Those in favor include 80 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats, and 85 percent of Independents…”

disclose act examples

Next this goes to the state Senate were we’ll be expecting Moorlach, Nguyen and Bates to help pass it or have a good excuse not to.  That’s weird, it’s like our whole old Board of Supervisors up there.  We’ll add to this story if we hear more from Ling-Ling or the Repug dead-enders.  (Oh, and thanks Tom Daly for voting with the rest of your Party this time!)

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.