California Implements New Changes to Lobbying and Campaign Finance Laws

Political Law Alert

Two key bills on campaign finance and lobbying were passed by the California state legislature and signed in to law by Governor Newsom on September 30.

Senate Bill 459 requires that lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers now disclose information in quarterly reports that identifies each bill or administrative action lobbied and the position advocated for. It also requires lobbying firms to file additional disclosures for lobbying activity during the last 60 days of a scheduled legislative session.

The legislation adds new requirements for “issue lobbying advertisements” – defined as advertisements made for the purpose of influencing a clearly identified legislative or administrative action, including a grassroots lobbying advertisement. An issue lobbying advertisement must now clearly and conspicuously identify the person that authorized and paid for the advertisement by either including the words “Paid for by” or “Ad paid for by” followed by the legal name of the person in a manner easily readable by the average viewer, or by meeting the requirements in the law for campaign advertisements.

The new provisions are effective either one year after the Secretary of State certifies for public use an online filing and disclosure system for lobbying information, or beginning January 1, 2023, whichever is later.

On the campaign finance side, Senate Bill 1360 requires an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to instruct voters to sign the petition only after viewing certain disclosures regarding the top contributors to the initiative, referendum, or recall. It also requires online political advertisements to disclose top contributors to the committee paying for the advertisement on the advertisement itself, and makes changes to the format of disclosures on television and radio advertisements that identify top funders. This legislation takes effect immediately.

For more information, please contact a member of Caplin & Drysdale’s Political Law team.


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