Bill requires more disclosure of independent election spending

Posted May 15, 2013

— Outside groups that spend money on so-called independent expenditures in order to affect the outcome of elections would have to more quickly and thoroughly report their donors and activities under a bill that cleared the state House Wednesday.

Candidates for public offices, such as those running for legislature, already have a regular reporting schedule and have to report large donations made close to an election. But independent expenditure groups, backers of the bill say, can often put off reporting until after an election. 

"As someone who has had $100,000 spent against him in an election, I would have liked to have had this kind of information," said Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake. 

A few lawmakers objected to the bill, saying it could force large membership organizations such as the National Rifle Association to disclose their rank-and-file donors to the State Board of Elections.

"The State Board of Elections has the ability to require anything they want from anybody they want under this bill," said Rep. Mark Brody, R-Union. 

But Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said the bill doesn't require organizations report more than they do now.

A group making an independent expenditure buy would likely not be asked to turn over its membership records, he and other backers of the bill said. Also, groups that make very small independent expenditures wouldn't have to report expenses that they are currently required to disclose.

The bill passed the House 97-16. It now goes to the Senate.


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