Campaign Finance Rule Changes

Disclosure rules for politicians and political committees

The new election laws change how political candidates and parties report money raised and spent on campaigns.vote_public-domain

The new law eliminated provisions that allowed voters to a check a box on their tax returns to donate $3 to go to either of the two major parties and the public funding of judicial races and some Council of State races. The public financing programs, especially for judicial campaigns, helped to reduce the influence of special interest money.

The new election law allows candidates and political committees to hold raffles to raise money for candidates. The amount paid for a raffle ticket must be reported as a campaign donation.

Contribution limits raised the amount an individual can give to a candidate from $4,000 to $5,000 per primary or general election. After 2015, that threshold will automatically increase every two years based on the Consumer Price Index.

The new law expands how corporations can donate to political parties or campaigns. Previously, corporations could donate to “building funds” for a party’s headquarters. The new law allows corporate money to be used to pay salaries of up to three staff members plus travel and fundraising expenses. This expands the uses for which unlimited corporate contributions may be used.

The law that required the sponsor of a radio or television advertisement, whether a candidate or chief of an outside spending group, to disclose who is paying for the ad. Television ads aired by candidates would still have to carry a picture and “visual disclosure legend” for two seconds during the commercial. Radio ads by candidates still have to carry a two-second disclosure. But no disclosure is required for ads funded by parties or independent spending groups.

The new law allows non-candidate groups to not report how much they spend on campaign-style ads until after Sept. 15 of an even-numbered election year. Formerly, disclosure of such spending was required no matter when the advertising aired.

Lobbyists haven’t been allowed to make and bundle contributions for political candidates. The new law makes it illegal for lobbyists to take possession of a campaign check in any way, shape or form.