Chafee eyes regs for political expenditures

GOV. Lincoln D. Chafee aims to increase transparency on certain political expenditures.
Posted 2/17/12

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee aims to increase transparency on certain political expenditures.

Chafee announced Thursday he will introduce a bill mandating full disclosure of previously unregulated political expenditures.

Individuals and organizations that engage in “independent expenditures” and “electioneering communications” would be required to report donors and expenditures to the state board of elections, as well as disclaimers on media and internet advertising, under the proposed legislation.

The governor worked with Common Cause Rhode Island to develop the “Transparency in Political Spending Act;” its primary sponsors are Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence, and Rep. Chris Blazejewski, D-Providence, East Providence, a news release said.

“Since the Citizens United decision, we have seen the rise and increased influence of so-called ‘Super PACs’ and other powerful outside organizations and individuals,” said Chafee.

“These special interests are currently permitted to play a significant role in the political process with little-to-no transparency or oversight. The Transparency in Political Spending Act seeks to change that by making those individuals and organizations trying to influence the outcome of an election accountable to the people of Rhode Island,” he said.

“Disclosure of campaign donors and spending – regardless of whether it’s by a candidate directly or by some group that is trying to influence elections – is vital information that the public deserves. If organizations are going to be allowed to come in and spend limitless amounts on getting the person they want elected, at a minimum the people of our state have the right to know where that money is coming from,” said House Speaker Gordon Fox.

An “independent expenditure” is one that expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate and is not coordinated with any candidate’s campaign, authorized candidate committee or political party committee.

The “electioneering communications” are media communications not coordinated with any candidate, authorized candidate committee or political party committee which unambiguously identifies a candidate and is made within 60 days of a general or special election or within 30 days of a primary an can be received by 5,000 or more persons in the constituency, the news release said.

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