Overhaul of State’s Campaign Finance and Election Transparency Laws Cleared by U.S. Justice Department
MONTGOMERY – Laws requiring more frequent reporting of political campaign contributions and greater transparency in political advertising are set to take effect after receiving preclearance by the United States Department of Justice earlier this week.
In addition to a law passed during the December 2010 Special Session that bans PAC-to-PAC transfers, the new laws overhaul the former system that made it nearly impossible in some cases to determine the true source of funding for campaign contributions and political advertisements. The two bills were sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said the new laws finally ensure both voters and members of the press are able to determine who’s funding political campaigns in Alabama.
“This is an unprecedented level of transparency and will allow every Alabamian to see who is financing campaigns monthly, instead of when it’s almost too late,” Senator Marsh said. “With these new laws in place, the public and the media will have the opportunity to easily track campaign contributions and do so on a regular basis – a stark contrast to the culture that was fostered through weak campaign finance disclosure laws.”
House Speaker Mike Hubbard said the laws represent a new class of leadership in Montgomery.
“This is another reform that would not have existed had voters not sent a new class of leadership to the Legislature,” Speaker Hubbard said. “We’re making it easier for the public to hold elected leaders accountable. That will allow government to build trust and be more responsive to the people’s needs.”
Act 2011-687, which requires contributions and expenditures to be reported monthly starting one year before any election and more frequently during the month leading up to the election, also requires the establishment of an electronic searchable public database of all campaign contributions and expenditures and electronic reporting beginning in 2014. The first reports required under the law are due today – Friday, September 30.
Act 2011-697 requires any person or entity engaging in political advertisements or electioneering communications to file a report with the Secretary of State’s office disclosing all contributions and expenditures.