Gov. Jerry Brown Torpedoes “Paid Political Signature Gatherer” Badges

Paid signature gathers won’t be required to wear badges identifying them as such, thanks to a veto by Gov. Jerry Brown September 7.

The Democratic governor said the bill was “provocative but ultimately unpersuasive” and could set a bad precedent.

“If it is acceptable to force paid signature gatherers to place identifying badges on their chests, will similar requirements soon be placed on paid campaign workers?” Brown wrote in his four-sentence veto message.

“I choose not to go down this slippery slope where the state decides what citizens must wear when petitioning their government.”

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, the author of the bill – SB 448 – said he was “disappointed” by Brown’s veto of a measure that “would have taken a modest but important step toward fixing” the state’s “broken” initiative process.

DeSaulnier argued that voters would make a more informed decision if they knew a signature gather was paid or a volunteer.

The bill would have required persons paid to circulate an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to wear a badge identifying them as a “paid signature gatherer.”  

Such a badge had to be worn on the signature gatherer’s chest “in clear view of all individuals signing or asked to sign the petition.”

The words PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER needed to be in at least 30 point type. (That’s 36 point at left.)

Campaign workers who are paid to circulate petitions are usually compensated based on the number of signatures they gather, receiving a certain bounty — often in the $1.50 range — per signature.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen supported the badge bill.




  1. This bill would have set a dangerous precedent. If signed into law,what next? Paid lobbyists required to wear uniforms, maybe blue, seer sucker suits with white patent leather loafers? That requirement, of course,would, as the Legislature has done with the Public Records Act,not apply to themselves, who might appropriately be required to dress in uniforms of dollar bill green leisure suits with red shoes and nametags embossed with $$$ signs. Where would these stylistic insults end?

    Go Jerry! Keep decent fashion styles alive and ban useless idnetification badges.

    Comment by Perspicacious — 9.07.2011 @ 8:04 pm

  2. We don’t need no stinking badges…and thanks for the well wishes.

    Comment by Robyn Boyer — 9.07.2011 @ 8:07 pm

  3. I always liked the NASCAR rule for legislators: Make them wear their top ten contributors on their sleeves

    Comment by Michael Jarvis — 9.09.2011 @ 4:45 pm

  4. It is a sad day when someone can pay people to accost shoppers in a parking lot to get a signature or a vote. Free Speech is critical to the survival of our democracy I agree. We must remind Gov Brown that one of the tenants of free speach is TRUTH. If you won’t tell me who is being paid, you are not being truthful.

    Gov Brown made a mistake on this one. Why not identify who is being paid to campaign as well? Is Gov Brown afraid to let the public know how many campaign workers he pays to get his office? Is Gov Brown afraid of letting the public know what issues are so important that people will volunteer and what issues are so wasteful that we need to hire people to get the job done?

    Freedom of speach was never about buying speakers….

    Comment by Scott — 9.14.2011 @ 6:14 pm

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