March 13, 2020 •

FPPC of California Creates Task Force

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California State Capitol Building - Jeff Turner

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced the formation of a Digital Transparency Task Force. The purpose of this group is to address the issues surrounding political advertising through social media and other digital outlets. The Digital Transparency Task […]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced the formation of a Digital Transparency Task Force.

The purpose of this group is to address the issues surrounding political advertising through social media and other digital outlets.

The Digital Transparency Task Force will study the current landscape of these outlets.

They will also look at trends and ways to keep up with the ever-changing field, including regulations possibly needing updated, enhanced, added, or strengthened.

The FPPC created the task force to help set standards and to develop best practices for transparent digital political advertising.

They will also assist the public to easily find the information in a publicly accessible database.

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February 24, 2020 •

Ontario Canada electoral districts Byelection for Orleans and Ottawa-Vanier: Political Blackout

Legislative Assembly of Ontario building - Saforrest (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

From February 26 at 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on February 27, there will be the statutory blackout on political advertising. The blackout will be for the February 27 by-election being held for the Ontario Canada electoral districts of Orleans […]

From February 26 at 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on February 27, there will be the statutory blackout on political advertising.

The blackout will be for the February 27 by-election being held for the Ontario Canada electoral districts of Orleans and Ottawa-Vanier.

On August 2, 2019, the Chief Electoral of Ontario received a notice of vacancy in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the electoral district of Ottawa-Vanier.

MPP Mona Fortier left her seat to become the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.

On September 24, 2019, a second notice of vacancy in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario was received for the electoral district of Orleans.

MPP Marie-France Lalonde resigned from her seat to run for a seat in Canadian Parliament, which she won on October 21.

On January 29, 2020, the Office of Premier Doug Ford issued writs for the byelections to be held on February 17.

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February 17, 2020 •

Judge Set to Confirm Most of San Francisco Political Ad Disclosure Rules

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U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will uphold the bulk of a San Francisco ordinance requiring political ads to disclose top donors and secondary funding sources. Proposition F requires print, audio, and video political ads disclose the top three donors who […]

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will uphold the bulk of a San Francisco ordinance requiring political ads to disclose top donors and secondary funding sources.

Proposition F requires print, audio, and video political ads disclose the top three donors who contributed at least $5,000. If one of those donors is a PAC, the committee’s top two donors must also be disclosed.

The judge rejected claims the ad disclosure law hinders political speech.

Yes on Prop B argued the law unconstitutionally burdens its right to free speech and cited an en banc Ninth Circuit panel decision in American Beverage Association v. San Francisco blocking the city from requiring health warnings taking up 20% of billboard ads for sodas and sweetened drinks.

Judge Breyer found the court decision was not really on point because Proposition F was passed by a voter referendum and regulates political speech as opposed to commercial speech.

The judge also rejected an argument donor information is easily accessible on the San Francisco Ethics Commission website stating putting the onus on voters to look up the information would not match the law’s intent.

While refusing to block most of the law, Judge Breyer agreed requiring lengthy disclaimers for small print and short length political ads is likely unconstitutional and indicated he will issue a partial injunction blocking those types of restrictions.

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December 11, 2019 •

Federal Appeals Court Rejects Maryland Online Political Ad Law

Maryland Capitol Building - Jimmy Emerson

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Maryland law aimed at extending the state’s campaign finance oversight into online political ads to prevent foreign interference in local elections is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment. The […]

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Maryland law aimed at extending the state’s campaign finance oversight into online political ads to prevent foreign interference in local elections is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.

The Online Electioneering Transparency and Accountability Act, passed by state legislators in 2018, requires newspapers and other media platforms to collect and self-publish information about sponsors of online political ads.

The three-judge panel found that the law targets political expression and compels certain speech, and affirmed a lower court’s ruling to strike down the law.

The state’s attorney general’s office will review the decision and decide whether to file an appeal.

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October 28, 2019 •

Court of Appeals to Hear Arguments on Maryland Political Ads Law

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments on Wednesday in a case focused on Maryland’s Online Electioneering and Transparency Act. Maryland legislators passed the act in order to prevent foreign interference in local elections. However, […]

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments on Wednesday in a case focused on Maryland’s Online Electioneering and Transparency Act.

Maryland legislators passed the act in order to prevent foreign interference in local elections.

However, the sweeping scope has sparked a First Amendment outcry from multiple newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun.

The newspapers and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association argue in a lawsuit that the act violates the First Amendment because it requires collecting and self-publishing information about sponsors of online political ads.

The act also requires retaining records of the ads for inspection by the state Board of Elections.

The bill became law without the signature of Gov. Larry Hogan, who commended the law’s goals, but had concerns about the constitutionality.

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September 17, 2018 •

California Legislature Sends “Social Media DISCLOSE Act” to Governor

On September 12, California Gov. Jerry Brown was presented with a bill concerning political advertising in social media. Assembly Bill 2188, the “Social Media DISCLOSE Act”, requires disclosure for advertisements made “via a form of electronic media that allows users […]

On September 12, California Gov. Jerry Brown was presented with a bill concerning political advertising in social media.

Assembly Bill 2188, the “Social Media DISCLOSE Act”, requires disclosure for advertisements made “via a form of electronic media that allows users to engage in discourse and post content, or any other type of social media”, and is paid for by a political party or a candidate-controlled committee. The disclosure obligations fall on both the registered political parties and committees and on the “online platforms.”

The online platform must maintain and make available for online public inspection a digital copy of a political advertisement, the number of impressions generated from the ad, information regarding the total amount spent on the advertisements, and other relevant information.

The bill defines an online platform as a “public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application, including a social network, ad network, or search engine, that sells advertisements directly to advertisers. A public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application is not an online platform for purposes of this [Act] to the extent that it displays advertisements that are sold directly to advertisers through another online platform.” The online platforms will be required to include with each political advertisement a disclosure of who funded the ad or a hyperlink to a website containing the required disclosures.

If signed by the governor, the bill takes effect on January 1, 2020.

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June 6, 2018 •

Washington Files Lawsuits Against Facebook and Google over Political Ads

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google for failing to comply with political advertising laws. Under Washington law, commercial advertisers who provide political advertising during an election campaign must maintain documents and books of account that […]

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google for failing to comply with political advertising laws.

Under Washington law, commercial advertisers who provide political advertising during an election campaign must maintain documents and books of account that is open for public inspection.

The attorney general contends Facebook and Google have not released political advertising information sponsored through their online platforms when requested by members of the public.

If found guilty, the companies could face a penalty of $10,000 per violation for failing to maintain required information on political advertising sponsored in Washington state elections from 2013 through 2018.

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October 20, 2017 •

Bills introduced in U.S. Congress to Increase Transparency for Online Political Advertising

On October 19, two bipartisan bills allowing increased monitoring of online political advertising were introduced in the U.S. Congress. Companion bills House Resolution 4077, The Honest Ads Act, and Senate Bill 1989 direct the Federal Election Commission to enact rules […]

On October 19, two bipartisan bills allowing increased monitoring of online political advertising were introduced in the U.S. Congress. Companion bills House Resolution 4077, The Honest Ads Act, and Senate Bill 1989 direct the Federal Election Commission to enact rules for online advertisements similar to currents rules for television and radio. Larger digital platforms would be required to make available to the public requests to run political advertisements costing more than $500.

The bills were introduced by U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer and Mike Coffman and Senators Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner, and John McCain in response to “revelations that a Russian company purchased upwards of 3,000 political advertisements on Facebook in an effort to influence the 2016 Presidential election,” according to a press release by Kilmer.

“Our bipartisan bill makes sure our laws are as up to date as the latest technology, and makes it harder for foreign actors to use the internet to attack our democracy,” Kilmer said in his press release.

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September 28, 2016 •

Court Decision Concerning FEC Rule Limiting Disclosure for Certain Ads Stands

On September 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand a previous decision upholding a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule concerning contributor disclosure for certain political advertisements. Specifically, the court denied a petition for […]

district_of_columbia_court_of_appeals_seal-svgOn September 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand a previous decision upholding a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule concerning contributor disclosure for certain political advertisements. Specifically, the court denied a petition for a rehearing en banc of a previous ruling.

In January, the appellate court had reversed a lower court ruling and rejected the challenge from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) concerning the FEC rule about reporting of electioneering communications or advertisements picturing or naming candidates within 60 days of an election. In doing so, the federal appeals court upheld the FEC rule requiring public reporting only of donors who earmark contributions for the ads. Van Hollen and other campaign finance disclosure advocates argued the rule was too narrow and did not conform to a 2002 law prohibiting “soft money” in federal elections.

Fred Wertheimer, who backed Van Hollen’s lawsuit, said the ruling would not be appealed, according to Bloomberg BNA.

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August 31, 2016 •

Deadline Looms for Final Votes in the California Legislature

The California Legislature has been very active in the days leading up to the August 31 deadline for each house to pass bills. On August 30, Assembly Bill 700, a measure that would impose new disclosure requirements for political advertisements, […]

California_State_CapitolThe California Legislature has been very active in the days leading up to the August 31 deadline for each house to pass bills. On August 30, Assembly Bill 700, a measure that would impose new disclosure requirements for political advertisements, failed by a single vote in the Senate.

Senate Bill 1349 had better luck gaining passage yesterday and is headed for Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. SB 1349 will require changes to Cal-Access, California’s outdated online campaign contribution and lobbying database.

Photo of the California State Capitol by Griffin5 on Wikimedia Commons.

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June 29, 2016 •

SCOTUS Declines to Hear Challenge to Delaware Elections Law

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Elections Disclosure Act. The lower court ruled requiring third-party groups and individuals to disclose their donors if they publish advertisements or other communications referring to a candidate in an […]

US Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Elections Disclosure Act. The lower court ruled requiring third-party groups and individuals to disclose their donors if they publish advertisements or other communications referring to a candidate in an upcoming election is constitutional. The law furthers the purpose of the 2012 ethics overhaul by closing loopholes allowing anonymous campaign-related advertising.

Photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building by UpstateNYer on Wikimedia Commons.

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February 8, 2016 •

California Campaign Finance Bill Passes Assembly

The State Assembly has passed a campaign finance bill requiring many political advertisements to prominently display or announce the names of the ad sponsor’s top donors of $50,000 or more. Assembly Bill 700 requires the true source of funds to […]

California State Assembly chamberThe State Assembly has passed a campaign finance bill requiring many political advertisements to prominently display or announce the names of the ad sponsor’s top donors of $50,000 or more. Assembly Bill 700 requires the true source of funds to be disclosed, making efforts to hide contributions using middleman organizations or earmarked funds impermissible.

The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Photo of the California State Assembly chamber by David Monniaux on Wikimedia Commons.

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January 21, 2016 •

D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Rules Against Van Hollen

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has reversed a lower court ruling and rejected the challenge from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) concerning a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule about reporting of electioneering communications or advertisements […]

District_of_Columbia_Court_of_Appeals_Seal.svgThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has reversed a lower court ruling and rejected the challenge from Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) concerning a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule about reporting of electioneering communications or advertisements picturing or naming candidates within 60 days of an election. In doing so, the federal appeals court upheld the FEC rule requiring public reporting only of donors who earmark contributions for the ads.

Van Hollen and other campaign finance disclosure advocates argued the rule was too narrow and did not conform to a 2002 law prohibiting “soft money” in federal elections.

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September 11, 2015 •

California Bill Requires New Disclaimer Rules for Political Ads

The Legislature has passed a bill requiring new political advertising standards. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Assembly Bill 990 will require political advertisements to carry larger statements clearly stating information about who is paying for the advertisement. Bonilla introduced the […]

CaliforniaThe Legislature has passed a bill requiring new political advertising standards.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Assembly Bill 990 will require political advertisements to carry larger statements clearly stating information about who is paying for the advertisement.

Bonilla introduced the legislation to ensure voters will be able to easily identify the sponsors behind any political advertising.

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