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FPPC Update

The Fair Political Practices Commission approved the following regulatory amendments at its March 22, 2018 meeting:

Amendments to Regulation 18450.1 relating to Advertisement Disclosure:

The Commission considered amendments to Regulation 18450.1 relating to advertisement disclosure to conform the regulation to recent changes in the law under AB 249 (Disclose Act). The Commission selected from three options regarding threshold definitions of political campaign “advertisement” for disclosure purposes, including an option to do away with all bright-line quantity thresholds to define advertisement.

The three options considered were:

Option 1: Proposed language defines “yard signs” as those no larger than six square feet and “large signs” as those larger than six square feet, such as road signs and billboards. Consistent with the current regulation defining advertisements, yard signs will require a disclosure in quantities over 200, while large signs will require a disclosure at any quantity.

Option 2: Proposed language groups yard signs in the category of “print advertisements larger than those designed to be individually distributed” along with road signs and billboards. This will require disclosures on yard signs at any quantity. Brightline quantity thresholds defining other forms of communications as advertisements remain in place.

Option 3: Proposed language strikes all bright-line quantity thresholds defining advertisements and requires disclosures on advertisements at any quantity. This will require a case-by-case determination of whether a communication is “general or public” in nature and thus an “advertisement” under Section 84501.

The Commission, in a 3-2 decision approved Option 3, after comments from the public and much discussion among the Commissioners and staff, who advised that the rule may lead to future litigation because courts have ruled in similar cases that such restrictions are a burden on speech and would not meet “exacting scrutiny” standard for a government actor to restrict speech. This amendment requires disclosures on all political campaign advertisements at any quantity.

Regulation 18401. Required Record keeping. This item passed 5-0, with some minor changes regarding accounting methods used for earmarked funds. The amendments to Regulation 18401 related to record keeping requirements for electronic mass mailings and earmarked funds. The changes were proposed to implement provisions of AB 249 (Disclose Act).

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