Watchdog: Violations found in ballot props before election day

Before the Nov. 4 general election, California’s political watchdog examined “every advertisement relating to state and local ballot measures” – a total of 172 state and local propositions – and ordered corrections in 19 of them, mostly for failing to make it clear who was financing the ads.

In one case, a series of online ads by the campaign supporting Proposition 47, there was “no disclosure at all.”

“All of these corrections resulted in increased availability of information about who was paying for these ballot measures being provided to voters before the election,” Gary Winuk, the Fair Political Practices Commission’s enforcement chief, wrote in a memo to the commission. The FPPC enforces the state’s campaign disclosure rules.

The violations involved insufficient disclosure, lack of contrasting background and disclosure “not displayed in required font or for required duration.”

In one case, a series of online ads by the campaign supporting Proposition 47, there was “no disclosure at all,” Winuk said, noting that the issue was expected to be taken up this week by the commission.

Proposition 47, approved by voters nearly 2-to-1, requires changing in sentencing, and reduces “nonserious, nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors.”

Before the election, the FPPC also contacted 51 cities, those “with competitive elections, a population of at least 100,000 and without a local ethics commission” in order to identify candidates or campaigns that were not submitting financial disclosure forms. The FPPC said it found 16 pre-election “nonfilers” and was able to “to achieve 100 percent compliance from every city that was contacted.”

In one case involving a candidate for the Roseville City Council, the FPPC filed a civil suit to force compliance with the state’s financial disclosure rules. The candidate “complied immediately after the suit after the suit was filed, and provided disclosure before the election,” Winuk said.

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