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States Urged to Clarify Role of Money in Politics

Innovative Model Disclosure Law Released
Includes Top 10 Ways to Improve Campaign Finance Disclosure

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For Immediate Release
on Wednesday, July 21, 2004

For additional information, contact: Bob Stern at (310) 470-6590 ext. 117 or Nancy Volpert at (310) 470-6590 ext. 126.

Los Angeles – The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), as part of the Campaign Disclosure Project, today released an innovative new Model Campaign Finance Disclosure Law that will help states easily tell their residents who is financing political campaigns and how money is being spent and make that information readily accessible to the public and the media.   The Model Law is ready for immediate adoption by states wanting to improve their disclosure of political candidates’ contributions and expenditures.

To make it most useful to legislators, public interest groups, media representatives and citizens, the Model Law highlights the Top Ten Provisions most important to improving campaign finance disclosure at all levels of government.  The law would require all contributors to disclose their occupations and employers before candidates can cash their checks, require disclosure of “issue ad” contributors and expenditures, mandate electronic filing of campaign statements, create statewide searchable databases of campaign finance information, post annual summaries of contributions and expenditures by the agencies receiving the reports and offer annual reporting of charitable contributions raised by candidates or officeholders.  

 “Many of the existing disclosure laws, written in the 1970s post-Watergate crisis, are outdated and should be improved to create a more educated voter,” said Bob Stern, CGS President.  “Transparency and easy accessibility of campaign finance information allows voters to see who is supporting a candidate for office or ballot measure.  With adoption of these provisions, voters will be able to find out who is trying to influence the election -- and elected official -- before they mark their ballots.”

The Model Law addresses new campaign finance practices that have arisen in the past ten years including the growth of “issue ads” and independent spending.  Many jurisdictions already require campaigns to file electronically, but not all.  Electronic filing and disclosure through the Internet allows members of the public and press to access information rapidly and conveniently.

The Model Law is based on CGS research, studies of the 50 states’ laws by UCLA School of Law, an analytical grading of existing state laws by California Voter Foundation (copies of Grading State Disclosure are available online at www.campaigndisclosure.org), and advice from the Campaign Disclosure Project Advisory Board.  The Board consists of leading scholars, practitioners, journalists, elected officials and other experts representing a broad spectrum of views on campaign disclosure.

The Campaign Disclosure Project is a partnership of the Center for Governmental Studies, the California Voter Foundation and UCLA School of LawThe project is sponsored by a generous grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) creates innovative political and media solutions to help individuals participate more effectively in their communities and governments.  CGS uses research, advocacy, information technology and education to improve the fairness of governmental policies and processes, empower the underserved to participate more effectively in their communities, improve communication between voters and candidates for office, and help implement effective public policy reforms.

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This page was first published on July 21, 2004
| Last updated on July 21, 2004
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