Political Bloggers Will Have To Disclose Secret Funding Under Rules State Campaign Regulators Consider Today

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Sacramento, CA – Now-hidden payments to political bloggers will have to be disclosed if the Fair Political Practices Commission approves a proposed regulation to increase campaign transparency today. The rule would require campaign committees to disclose any amount paid to a blogger or other commenter that posts an opinion online, and where that opinion appears. Voters have a right to know if the communications they’re watching and reading have been paid for, said Consumer Watchdog.

“Paid campaign attacks by political bloggers masquerading as impartial commenters represent one of the biggest loopholes in campaign transparency in California because voters are getting more and more of their information online. How can voters decide what messenger to believe if they don’t know who’s speaking?” asked Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

The proposed regulation would waive the campaign disclosure only if the blogger disclosed within the actual commentary that he or she is being paid. Achieving this kind of real-time disclosure for all campaign communications, at the point the voter is reading the message, should be the Commission’s ultimate goal, said Consumer Watchdog.  

The rule’s only opposition has come from paid spokespeople whose income from digital political commentaries is now frequently hidden from the public.

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued guidelines on a related issue, requiring bloggers and social media users to disclose when their posts are paid for, or sponsored, by a company.

“Truth in advertising is important everywhere, yet political hacks are free to say anything they want and never reveal it’s paid speech,” said Balber.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter of support to the commission for the regulation here:

Read the FPPC’s proposed regulation:

Read more about the FTC’s federal requirements for disclosure of paid blog and social media posts:

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Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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