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AB-201 Political Reform Act of 1974: campaign disclosure: text messages.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 10/09/2019 09:00 PM
AB201:v90#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 201
CHAPTER 555

An act to amend Section 84502 of, and to add Section 84504.7 to, the Government Code, relating to the Political Reform Act of 1974.

[ Approved by Governor  October 08, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State  October 08, 2019. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 201, Cervantes. Political Reform Act of 1974: campaign disclosure: text messages.
The Political Reform Act of 1974 provides for the comprehensive regulation of campaign financing and activities. The act defines “mass mailing” to mean over two hundred substantially similar pieces of mail, and defines “mass electronic mailing” to mean sending more than 200 substantially similar pieces of electronic mail within a calendar month. The act prohibits a candidate or committee from sending a mass mailing or mass electronic mailing unless certain information regarding the source of the mailing is shown in or on the mailing, as specified. The act also regulates political advertisements. The act requires certain advertisements paid for by a committee to include the words “Ad paid for by” in the advertisement. The act requires electronic media advertisements, other than email messages or internet websites, paid for by a committee, other than a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate, to comply with certain disclosure requirements. The act requires certain committees to include a hyperlink to an internet website disclosing, among other things, the committee’s “top contributors,” as defined, in an electronic media advertisement.
This bill would authorize a committee to instead include the words “Paid for by” or “With” in an advertisement that is a text message. The bill would require a committee other than a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate to include in certain text message advertisements that are not individually sent without the assistance of mass distribution technology the text “Paid for by” or “With” followed by either the name of the committee or a hyperlink or URL for an internet website containing certain disclosures, as specified. The bill would require a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate to disclose the name of the candidate and the office sought in those same types of text messages. The bill would require a committee with top contributors, other than a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate, to include the text “Top funders:” followed by the name of the single top contributor of $50,000 or more, or the names of the top two contributors of $50,000 or more, to the committee paying for the advertisement, as specified. The bill would prescribe certain requirements for the color and size of the text in the text message and the disclosures on the internet website.
Because a violation of the requirements of the bill would be a crime under an existing provision of the act, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program by expanding the definition of a crime.
This bill would incorporate additional changes to Section 84502 of the Government Code proposed by AB 864 to be operative only if this bill and AB 864 are enacted and this bill is enacted last.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
The Political Reform Act of 1974, an initiative measure, provides that the Legislature may amend the act to further the act’s purposes upon a 2/3 vote of each house of the Legislature and compliance with specified procedural requirements.
This bill would declare that it furthers the purposes of the act.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Text Message DISCLOSE Act.

SEC. 2.

 Section 84502 of the Government Code is amended to read:

84502.
 (a) (1) Any advertisement paid for by a committee pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 82013, other than a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate, shall include the words “Ad paid for by” followed by the name of the committee as it appears on the most recent Statement of Organization filed pursuant to Section 84101.
(2) Any advertisement paid for by a committee pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 82013 that is a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate shall include the words “Ad paid for by” followed by the name of the committee as it appears on the most recent Statement of Organization filed pursuant to Section 84101 if the advertisement is any of the following:
(A) Paid for by an independent expenditure.
(B) An advertisement supporting or opposing a ballot measure.
(C) A radio or television advertisement.
(D) A text message advertisement that is required to include a disclosure pursuant to Section 84504.7.
(b) Any advertisement paid for by a committee pursuant to subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 82013 shall include the words “Ad paid for by” followed by the name that the filer is required to use on campaign statements pursuant to subdivision (o) of Section 84211.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), if an advertisement is a printed letter, internet website, or email message, the text described in subdivisions (a) and (b) may include the words “Paid for by” instead of “Ad paid for by.”
(d) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), if an advertisement is a text message, the text described in subdivisions (a) and (b) may include the words “Paid for by” or “With” instead of “Ad paid for by.”

SEC. 2.5.

 Section 84502 of the Government Code is amended to read:

84502.
 (a) (1) Any advertisement not described in subdivision (b) of Section 84504.3 that is paid for by a committee pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 82013, other than a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate, shall include the words “Ad paid for by” followed by the name of the committee as it appears on the most recent Statement of Organization filed pursuant to Section 84101.
(2) Any advertisement not described in subdivision (b) of Section 84504.3 that is paid for by a committee pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 82013 that is a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate shall include the words “Ad paid for by” followed by the name of the committee as it appears on the most recent Statement of Organization filed pursuant to Section 84101 if the advertisement is any of the following:
(A) Paid for by an independent expenditure.
(B) An advertisement supporting or opposing a ballot measure.
(C) A radio or television advertisement.
(D) A text message advertisement that is required to include a disclosure pursuant to Section 84504.7.
(b) Any advertisement not described in subdivision (b) of Section 84504.3 that is paid for by a committee pursuant to subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 82013 shall include the words “Ad paid for by” followed by the name that the filer is required to use on campaign statements pursuant to subdivision (o) of Section 84211.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), if an advertisement is a printed letter, internet website, or email message, the text described in subdivisions (a) and (b) may include the words “Paid for by” instead of “Ad paid for by.”
(d) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), if an advertisement is a text message, the text described in subdivisions (a) and (b) may include the words “Paid for by” or “With,” instead of “Ad paid for by.”

SEC. 3.

 Section 84504.7 is added to the Government Code, to read:

84504.7.
 (a) A candidate or committee shall not authorize or pay for an advertisement that is a text message, unless the disclosures described in subdivision (b) are made, if the text message meets one of the following conditions:
(1) The text message supports or opposes a candidate.
(2) The text message supports or opposes a ballot measure.
(b) (1) A committee, other than a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate, subject to subdivision (a) shall include the text “Paid for by” or “With” followed by either the name of the committee, or a hyperlink or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for an internet website containing the disclosures required by Sections 84502, 84503, and 84506.5. The text of the disclosures on the internet website shall be in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in no less than eight-point font. If the word “With” is used, the individual sending the text shall identify themselves in the following manner: “(Name of individual) with (name of committee or hyperlink or URL).” A disclosure using the word “With” may appear anywhere in the text message, including in conversational content, and need not appear as a separate statement apart from the other content of the message.
(2) A candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate subject to subdivision (a) shall include the text “Paid for by” or “With” followed by the name of the candidate, followed by the word “For,” and followed by the name of the elective office sought. If the word “With” is used, the individual sending the text shall identify themselves in the following manner: “(Name of individual) with (name of candidate) for (name of elective office).” A disclosure using the word “With” may appear anywhere in the text message, including in conversational content, and need not appear as a separate statement apart from the other content of the message.
(3) A committee subject to subdivision (a) that has top contributors, other than a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elective office of the controlling candidate, shall comply with the following:
(A) Immediately following the name of the committee or the hyperlink or URL required by paragraph (1), the text message shall also include the text “Top funders:” followed by the names of the top two contributors of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more to the committee paying for the advertisement, separated by “&” or “and.”
(B) The names of the top two contributors may be spelled using acronyms, abbreviations, or other shorthand in common usage or parlance. If a top contributor is an individual, their first and last name shall both be used.
(C) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), if the disclosures required by paragraph (1) and this paragraph would exceed 35 characters, the text message shall disclose only the single top contributor of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more to the committee paying for the advertisement.
(D) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), if the text message includes the name of the committee paying for the advertisement in accordance with paragraph (1), and the committee’s name includes the name of one of the top two contributors of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more to the committee paying for the advertisement, the text message is not required to include the name of that contributor after the text “Top funders:”.
(4) The text required to be included in a text message sent pursuant to this subdivision shall be in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in a font size that is readable by the average viewer.
(c) (1) This section does not apply to a text message that is individually sent without the assistance of mass distribution technology, including a text messaging platform.
(2) If a committee, other than a political party committee or a candidate controlled committee established for an elected office of the controlling candidate, subject to subdivision (a) that has top contributors uses individuals who are unpaid volunteers to send text messages with the assistance of mass distribution technology, including a text message platform, the text messages sent by individuals who are unpaid volunteers are not required to disclose the top two contributors pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (b). Text messages sent by unpaid volunteers shall include a disclosure stating that the text message is being sent by a volunteer. For purposes of this paragraph, receiving payments for food, transportation, or lodging in connection with campaign activity shall not disqualify a person from being classified as an unpaid volunteer.
(d) An internet website that is hyperlinked as provided for in this section shall remain online and available to the public until 30 days after the date of the election in which the candidate or ballot measure supported or opposed by the advertisement was voted on.
(e) (1) If an exchange consists of a sequence of multiple text messages sent on the same day, a candidate or committee shall be deemed in compliance with this section if the candidate or committee sends the disclosures required by subdivision (b) with the first text message in the sequence that meets one of the conditions of subdivision (a).
(2) A committee shall be deemed in compliance with this section if the disclosures required by subdivision (b) are included in the text message in the form the committee intended it to be sent, regardless of the form the carrier relayed it to the recipient.
(3) If a committee includes a hyperlink or URL in the text message sent pursuant to subdivision (b), the committee shall be deemed to be in compliance with subdivision (b) even if the recipient’s device is incapable of accessing the corresponding internet website.

SEC. 4.

 Section 2.5 of this bill incorporates amendments to Section 84502 of the Government Code proposed by both this bill and Assembly Bill 864. That section shall only become operative if (1) both bills are enacted and become effective on or before January 1, 2020, (2) each bill amends Section 84502 of the Government Code, and (3) this bill is enacted after Assembly Bill 864, in which case Section 2 of this bill shall not become operative.

SEC. 5.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

SEC. 6.

 The Legislature finds and declares that this bill furthers the purposes of the Political Reform Act of 1974 within the meaning of subdivision (a) of Section 81012 of the Government Code.