Dark Money

By David Schmidt, Letter to the Editor

Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz gets it right in "Hostile takeover of our democracy" (Insight, Feb. 1) and Willie Brown gets it wrong in "Let Koch brothers roll -- they're likely to lose big" (Feb. 1). Their power stems from their ability to spend unlimited "dark money" on political ads while hiding their role in funding them. This is particularly troubling with California ballot propositions ads, where the required disclosure is hidden in small print and nice-sounding committee names.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course with ballot propositions. This has to change. Voters have a right to know who's bombarding them with political ads. Thanks to San Francisco state Sen. Mark Leno, there's a simple solution, the California Disclose Act, which would require the top three funders of ballot proposition ads to be shown in large, clear print on their ads, including TV ads. Leno sponsored this bill and got it passed in the state Senate in 2013, but it died in the Assembly. The California Disclose Act is now being reintroduced in the Legislature. Tell your state legislators to pass it now so we'll know who's trying to buy our votes on ballot propositions in 2016. David Schmidt, San Francisco


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