House passes new campaign finance reform measures

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed three bills related to campaign finance and disclosure regulations which will update, strengthen and close a loophole in existing law.

“Upholding an open and functional democracy requires constant vigilance when it comes to campaign finance laws,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I’m pleased that the 2014 bipartisan task force was able to make timely and comprehensive recommendations, and I look forward to the benefits these laws will bring about.”

“These three pieces of legislation, resulting from the bipartisan 2014 Campaign Finance and Disclosure Task Force, reinforce the House’s commitment to make campaign financing more transparent, balanced and fair,” said John J. Mahoney, Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws (D-Worcester). “It is our responsibility to ensure our elections are held with the utmost integrity, and these common-sense changes will uphold and strengthen election laws across the Commonwealth.”  

“Transparency in our campaign finance and election laws is vital to the health of our representative democracy”, said Representative Garrett J. Bradley, Second Assistant Majority Leader (D-Hingham). “Closing legal loopholes that could be abused in our current laws allows the public to better keep track of which organizations are contacting them during elections as well as who helps to fund them.”

“I am delighted that the House today passed several common-sense campaign finance reforms that will add more transparency to election funding,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “Kudos to the House and to Speaker DeLeo for enacting legislation that require some of the most secretive negative campaigning groups to come out of the shadows. Expanding the top 5 donor requirement passed last year will add more accountability and give voters the information they need to make informed choices.”

  • “An act enhancing disclosure requirements for expenditures made to support or oppose candidates by certain political committees”

This bill requires that political committees reporting in-kind contributions must include the name of the candidate they are supporting or opposing. Through this update, contributions could be tracked in real time. Currently this information is required only in candidate end-of-year reports, which are not due until after the election. The legislation will bring state law in line with current Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) regulations.

  • "An act relative to contribution limits for candidates running for office in a special election”

This bill changes the campaign finance calendar for candidates who run in special election and a general election in the same calendar year. These candidates would be allowed to receive up to $1,000 in individual contributions between January 1st and the special election, and up to an additional $1,000 between the day after the special election and December 31st.

  • “An act relative to enhance disclosure of top-five contributors information”

This bill strengthens transparency provisions in Massachusetts’ 2014 campaign finance law. Under the legislation passed today, the top five donors contributing more than $5,000 would have to be documented on direct mailings and billboards. Currently they must be identified on only paid television, internet advertising or print advertising. This bill is designed to address efforts to evade disclosure following passage of the 2014 law.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

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Rep. Josh S. Cutler
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