Senator Sal DiDomenico announced last week that he had joined his colleagues in the Senate in voting in favor of a new campaign finance reform bill that ultimately served as the basis for a compromise bill with the House of Representatives and places Massachusetts at the forefront of creating transparency in campaign fundraising across the country.
“I am proud to support this bill and am pleased that we are addressing this critical issue facing our election process,” said DiDomenico following his vote on the issue last Wednesday, just 24 hours before the end of the legislative session.
“Campaign finance transparency is important in maintaining fair and democratic elections in the Commonwealth by allowing voters to know where money is coming from and how it is being used,” added DiDomenico. “By passing this bill, Massachusetts will again be a leader in election law reform.”
The issue of campaign finance reform and transparency has been at the forefront of recent elections, both in Massachusetts and across the country, as shadowy political action committees (PACs) have formed to support candidates and issues with little to no requirements to report who their donors are and how they are spending the money they raise during campaigns.
Under the new Massachusetts bill, corporations, labor unions and political action committees in Massachusetts will now be required to report to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) within seven business days of making an independent expenditure and within 24 hours of making an independent expenditure within the final 10 days of a primary or general election.
The bill also requires any independent expenditure or electioneering communication which is transmitted through paid television, internet advertising or print advertising larger than 15-square inches to include written information identifying the top 5 contributors to the organization if contributions exceed $5,000, as well as directions to the OCPF website for a listing of all contributors.
Additionally, the law directs all political action committees to designate a depository for funds and report on all contributions and expenditures twice per month.
Other aspects of the campaign finance bill include:
• Increases limits on personal contributions from $500 to $1,000 in a calendar year
• Increases contribution limit by money order from $50 to $100
• Requires mayoral candidates to file reports with the OCPF and increases reporting requirements for statewide candidates
• Requires State Senate and State Representative candidates to file by July 20 in a biennial election year and by the 35th day prior to a special primary
• And, beginning in 2015, requires that mailed voter guides include a statement of the impact of each ballot question on state and municipal finances