Today's Law As Amended


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AB-40 Political Reform Act of 1974: slate mailers.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Slate mail can be an important and efficient tool for direct voter engagement, but also has the potential to obfuscate or misrepresent affiliations and sources of positions.
(b) For transparency, and to protect our democracy, including from the risk of secretive big money, it is important that the public have a right to know who is paying for, and who is sending, advocacy and campaign communications, including slate mailers.
(c) In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) 558 U.S. 310, the United States Supreme Court recognized how disclosure requirements serve an important governmental interest in transparency, “which enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”
(d) In Human Life of Washington Inc. v. Brumsickle (2010) 624 F.3d 990, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that disclosure requirements “advance the important and well-recognized governmental interest of providing the voting public with the information with which to assess the various messages vying for their attention in the marketplace of ideas.”
(e) In Landslide Communications Inc. v. State of California (2013) No. 2:13-cv-00716-GEB-KJN, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California held that disclosure requirements relating to slate mail serve these important governmental interests. In particular, the court in Landslide reasoned that, by requiring a slate mailer to disclose the number of members in a certain organization it purports to represent, slate mail disclosure requirements aid the public in understanding what type of entity is speaking and who stands to benefit.
(f) Disclosure requirements do not compel a slate mailer organization to speak ill of itself, the Landslide court found, but instead impose an obligation on slate mailers that identify themselves as representing certain organizations to disclose a neutral fact, a membership number, the interpretation of which is up to the electorate.
(g) Moreover, because the required disclosures do not occupy a large portion of a slate mailer, the court in Landslide determined that any burden to a slate mailer organization’s First Amendment rights would be modest.
(h) Accordingly, any burdens caused by these disclosure requirements are limited to certain types of election speech, a context in which the governmental interests served by disclosure requirements are particularly heightened.
(i) Numerous disclosures are already required for political communications for this reason, including mass mailing, newspaper, radio, and television advertisements.

SECTION 1.SEC. 2.

 Section 84305.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:

84305.5.
 (a) No A  slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures shall not  send a slate mailer unless:
(1) The name, street address, and city of the slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures are shown on the outside of each piece of slate mail and on at least one of the inserts included with each piece of slate mail in no less than 8-point roman type which shall be in a color or print which contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible. A post office box may be stated in lieu of a street address if the street address of the slate mailer organization or the committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measure is a matter of public record with the Secretary of State’s Political Reform Division.
(2) At the top or bottom of the front side or surface of at least one insert or at the top or bottom of one side or surface of a postcard or other self-mailer, there is a notice in at least 8-point roman boldface type, which shall be in a color or print which contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible, and in a printed or drawn box and set apart from any other printed matter. The notice shall consist of the following statement:
NOTICE TO VOTERS
THIS DOCUMENT WAS PREPARED BY (name of slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures), NOT AN OFFICIAL POLITICAL PARTY ORGANIZATION. (name of slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures) is an organization representing (number of members the slate mailer organization or committee represents pursuant to subdivision (c)) members.  Appearance in this mailer does not necessarily imply endorsement of others appearing in this mailer, nor does it imply endorsement of, or opposition to, any issues set forth in this mailer. Appearance is paid for and authorized by each candidate and ballot measure which is designated by an *.
(3) The name, street address, and city of the slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures as required by paragraph (1) and the notice required by paragraph (2) may appear on the same side or surface of an insert.
(4) (A)  Each candidate and each ballot measure that has paid to appear in the slate mailer is designated by an *. Any candidate or ballot measure that has not paid to appear in the slate mailer is not designated by an *.
(B)  The * required by this subdivision shall be of the same type size, type style, color or contrast, and legibility as is used for the name of the candidate or the ballot measure name or number and position advocated to which the * designation applies except that in no case shall the * be required to be larger than 10-point boldface type.  applies.  The designation shall immediately follow the name of the candidate, or the name or number and position advocated on the ballot measure where the designation appears in the slate of candidates and measures. If there is no slate listing, the designation shall appear at least once in at least 8-point boldface type, immediately following the name of the candidate, or the name or number and position advocated on the ballot measure.
(C) The total amount paid to appear on the slate mailer is included for each candidate and ballot measure that is required to be designated by an *, immediately below the name or ballot measure, in no less than 9-point roman type and in a color or print that contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible.
(5) The name of any candidate appearing in the slate mailer who is a member of a political party differing from the political party which the mailer appears by representation or indicia to represent is accompanied, immediately below the name, by the party designation of the candidate, in no less than 9-point roman type which shall be in a color or print that contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible. The designation shall not be required in the case of candidates for nonpartisan office.
(b) For purposes of the designations required by paragraph (4) of subdivision (a), the payment of any sum made reportable by subdivision (c) of Section 84219 by or at the behest of a candidate or committee, whose name or position appears in the mailer, to the slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures, shall constitute a payment to appear, requiring the * designation. The payment shall also be deemed to constitute authorization to appear in the mailer.
(c) (1) If a slate mailer organization reasonably appears to be affiliated with or represent any organization, group, or class of individuals, the slate mailer shall include as the number of “members” in the disclosure required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) the number of individuals within that organization, group, or class who, individually or through membership in a group, meet the following criteria:
(A) A person who, pursuant to a specific provision of an organization’s articles or bylaws, may vote directly or indirectly for the election of a director or officer or for the disposition of all or substantially all of the assets of the organization in a merger or dissolution.
(B) A person designated as a member in the articles or bylaws of an organization that is tax exempt under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. Sec. 501(c)) and who has the right to vote to change the organization’s articles or bylaws or has paid dues to the organization.
(C) Members of a local union are considered to be members of any national or international union of which the local union is a part and of any federation with which the local, national, or international union is affiliated.
(2) If the number of individuals required to be disclosed as “members” pursuant to paragraph (1) is zero, the slate mailer shall instead include in the notice required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) a statement that the slate mailer organization does not represent any individuals within that organization, group, or class.
(3) For purposes of this subdivision “organization, group, or class,” includes, but is not limited to, a particular occupation, profession, or union; a group that designates a former occupation, such as “veteran” or “retiree”; residents of any particular geographic area; racial, ethnic, or religious groups; groups that represent people with disabilities; groups affiliated with members of a certain sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation; or a nonprofit or for-profit organization or business.
(4) The requirements of this subdivision do not apply to a slate mailer that meets the requirements of Section 84305.7.
SEC. 3.
 The provisions of this act are severable. If any provision of this act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.
SEC. 4.
 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. 5.
 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.