WA State Rep Proposes Jail Time for Funneling Contributions

KONP: “Rep. Kevin Van De Wege has proposed legislation that would give the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) the option to recommend felony charges when it deals with egregious violations of campaign finance laws.

“Currently, the PDC is limited to fining donors who purposefully and willfully circumvent laws designed to make contributions transparent. This proposal would require the PDC to refer violations to the state attorney general for criminal prosecution, a dramatic change for those who attempt to circumvent Washington State law and one that will help keep the public informed on who spends money on elections in the state.”

CA City Considers How to Update Rules after Citizens United

The Daily Journal: “Increasing the maximum amount of campaign contributions and whether businesses should be allowed to donate money to candidates are among the considerations the Belmont City Council will explore as it evaluates whether its current policies are both legal and timely.

“The council discussed updating its ordinance Tuesday night along with getting rid of a third campaign contribution report, whether donors must disclose their identity and who should be allowed to contribute to those running for any city office.”

“Seeking consistency with constitutional law

“Currently, those running for a Belmont office are barred from accepting contributions from businesses or organizations and conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.”

MN Prof, Bush Advisor Joins Conservative Reform Group

Minnesota Post: “A University of Minnesota law professor and a political consultant who’s worked on five Republican presidential campaigns – both alumni of the George W. Bush administration – launched a campaign finance reform group Wednesday tilted toward the conservative point of view.

“Richard Painter and Mark McKinnon lead the board of Take Back Our Republic, a fledgling group that does not so much decry the evil of big money as the evil of foreign money in campaigns.”

“A crackdown on accepting foreign money is the stick in the equation, but Take Back also offers a carrot. To encourage small donors, it suggests making contributions to federal campaigns up to $500 exempt from disclosure. Currently, any contribution over $200 must be disclosed.

“The group also supports a tax credit for small political donors, giving contributors a credit for donations up to $200 and a deduction for donations up to $600. Minnesota allows a tax refund — up to $100 — for contributions to state campaigns.”

UT Rep (again) Introduces Bill to Limit Contributions

Utah Political Capital (1/12): “This is not King’s first attempt to reign in campaign contributions. King has run similar legislation for the past four years, however, each time King comes a little bit closer. The 2010 bill died in committee while the 2014 bill failed on a very close 35-38 vote in the House.

“If passed, HB 60 would limit contributions from political action committees, corporations, and other individuals. A maximum of $5,000 could be donated to a legislative, judicial, or school board candidate. Donations to a current state office-holder would be limited to $10,000. Donations to political parties, political action committees, and labor organizations would be capped at $40,000. Under the bill, violating these limits would be a class B misdemeanor.”

WI Gov Supports Status Quo over Tightening, Loosening Campaign Finance Laws

Wisconsin News (1/7): “Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has called for changing state law to let businesses donate directly to political parties. Currently in Wisconsin, corporations cannot donate to candidates or parties, but some fund outside groups engaged in election-related advocacy. Vos, speaking to WisconsinEye, pitched direct giving as preferable because ‘it’s transparent, it has to be disclosed to the public, it’s all available online.’
[Governor Scott] Walker, however, is cool to this idea.

“’I have no interest in going down the path of other states” that allow corporate contributions, he said, citing Illinois as an example. ‘I don’t see a direct benefit in that.’

“The Legislature is also likely to make a fresh effort to raise contribution limits for candidates and parties. But Walker said ‘we were able to do just fine’ in the last election, in which individuals could give no more than $10,000 to his campaign.”

WI Campaign Finance Rules May Be Completely Redone

Sioux City Journal (1/4): “Republicans, in firm control of state government when they take office Monday, are poised to make the most sweeping revisions to state campaign finance law in decades.

“Many of those changes are already in effect after a series of federal court decisions made many current laws unenforceable. But a more comprehensive rewrite is in the works, and the overhaul is getting a thumbs up from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board — a frequent target of GOP ire that is itself in line for a possible makeover.

“Among other things, lawmakers are considering increasing campaign contribution limits and clarifying the coordination restrictions at the heart of a recent John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign.

“Also on tap: changes to election procedures, including banning all cameras from polling places and testing poll workers on their knowledge of election law. Those changes would come on the heels of a slew of changes adopted last session, including a controversial voter ID law that the U.S. Supreme Court could take up this year.”

Groups Push to Tighten, Loosen SEC Limits on State Contributions

Wall Street Journal (12/28): “The rule effectively prohibits certain employees of financial-services companies that do—or might do—business with state agencies from contributing to the officials who oversee those agencies. The rule, adopted in 2010, was intended to prevent political contributions from influencing state contracting decisions.

“Critics say the SEC rule’s effectiveness could be blunted in 2016 by the rise of super PACs, which can raise money without contribution caps but can’t coordinate with or give to candidates’ campaigns, as well as politically active nonprofit groups. In particular, they point to the increasing number of super PACs that form to support only a single candidate. Critics argue that a contribution to a group that spends money on behalf of a single candidate is akin to giving to the candidate.

“Others say the SEC rule should be eliminated, not expanded, with some noting that it creates an advantage for members of Congress, who aren’t subject to the rule, over governors in campaign fundraising. Some states have rules that are even more restrictive than the SEC’s.”