VT SoS Launches Electronic Disclosure Systems for Campaigns, Lobbying, Pushes Tighter Laws

Montpelier Bridge; “Secretary of State Jim “Condos explained ‘the new system not only makes lobbyist registration and disclosure simple and intuitive to use for anyone – from lobbying firms to local small businesses and nonprofits – that needs to register their activities with our office, it also provides the public with immediate access to more consistent and accurate information through a variety of search options.”

The Lobbyist Disclosure System is the second system in the new Elections Platform to go live. It follows the new Campaign Finance Information System (CFIS) that went live in August and becomes mandatory for all campaign finance reporting this month. CFIS allows candidates, PACs, and political parties to enter financial transactions (contributions and expenditures) and file reports on the relevant filing deadlines. The system also tracks Mass Media expenditures. Information contained in any reports filed by candidates, PACs, and political parties is immediately searchable using the database search functions.”

Condos in an interview with Burlington Free Press: “My office implemented an on-line Campaign Finance Information System in July 2014. As of January 2015, all candidates, political action committees and parties are required to utilize this new on-line system which will provide real time access to accurate and consistent campaign finance reports.”

“Here are some of the relatively easy steps we could take to make our lobbying more transparent that I will propose to the Legislature: more frequent disclosure — monthly during the legislative session; mass media intended to influence legislation should be reported within 24 hours; and the value and summary of any contracts those entities have with legislators”

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MO SoS Proposes Ethics, Lobbying, Campaign Finance Overhaul

Sedalia News Journal (1/5): “Secretary of State Jason Kander today announced legislation to overhaul Missouri’s worst-in-the-nation ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. The comprehensive approach is contained in a series of bills filed on Kander’s behalf by Representatives Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City), Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City), Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette) and Jon Carpenter (D-Gladstone).

“Provisions in the bills include campaign contribution limits, a ban on lobbyist gifts to elected officials and their staff, improvements in transparency, mandatory ethics training for state officials, an end to the legislator-to-lobbyist revolving door, whistleblower protections for individuals reporting wrongdoing and stiffer criminal penalties for obstructing ethics investigations.”

“Current Missouri law allows politicians to accept both unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited lobbyist gifts. Kander’s plan would prohibit politicians from collecting six-figure donations and free sports tickets. It would also put an end to the political money laundering practice of a campaign receiving contributions from a political action committee that is funded primarily by one person who has already reached his or her contribution limit by creating the presumption that a law has been broken. It places the burden on the politician to prove otherwise.

CA SoS Plans to Modernize State’s Voter Registration, Campaign Disclosure Processes

Tech Wire: California’s New Secretary of State Alex Padilla in an interview
“AP: There are three that are immediately at the top of the list. One is a program called VoteCal. That’s the centralized voter registration database that is required by the federal government. It’s a project that’s seen numerous delays. The current timetable has it coming online in mid-2015. So the stakes are high on a successful rollout. It’s important not only for federal compliance, but also for other tools that it can enable, including our same-day voter registration law. The ability to show up on Election Day, register and cast a ballot is contingent on this system being up and functioning.”

“The third is not a project yet, but will be. Our Cal-Access system, the campaign finance information website and database – that definitely needs to be revamped. Not just making it more reliable, but a complete overhaul. I think ideally, you could have much more frequent disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. Right now, legislators and constitutional officers don’t have to disclose, sometimes for up to six months, their fundraising spending activities. So there would [need to be] a legislative change.”