Disclosure News


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Excerpt: “Alabama has received another "F" in an annual study of states' campaign finance disclosure laws.

The new Grading State Disclosure report says Alabama's grade has been unchanged since the annual reports began in 2003. Alabama ranks 49th among the states.”

Excerpt: “Once again, and to no great shock, Alabama has received a failing grade in an annual study of states' campaign finance disclosure laws. The reputable Campaign Disclosure Project again ranked Alabama 49th; alas, the state's grade hasn't improved since the rankings began five years ago.”

Excerpt: “Alabama's continuing failure to significantly improve since the report was first issued in 2003 is particularly galling because there has been such dramatic improvement in disclosure laws and accessibility in many other states.

The report cites "a clear and continuing trend toward greater public access to campaign disclosure data." In 2003, Alabama was one of 17 states receiving an F, with just two states earning grades of A or B range. By 2008, 24 states earned an A or B and Alabama was one of only 10 states receiving a failing grade. Overall, Alabama ranked 49th out of the 50 states this year.”

Excerpt: “Kansas, which ranked 34th overall, could be in line for a higher passing grade in the future. That’s because the survey did not take into account legislation which passed this spring, said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, which helped produce the report.

Earlier this year, lawmakers shrank the state’s oft-derided blackout period by requiring candidates and special interest groups to file reports about their last-minute campaign finance transactions before Election Day.”

Excerpt: “The national Campaign Disclosure Project boosted Kentucky's grade for the state's campaign finance transparency up to a B- from last year's C+ even as it continued its slide in the national rankings.

Overall, Kentucky scored the 21st best campaign finance disclosure system in the United States, according to the project that is a collaboration by the California Voter Foundation, the Center for Governmental Studies, and the UCLA School of Law and is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.”

Excerpt: “The Kentucky General Assembly failed to pass a bill last year sponsored by state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, that would have required candidates who raise more than $25,000 in an election to file their campaign finance reports electronically directly to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Electronic filing allows the reports to show up almost immediately on the registry's Web site and wouldn't require staff members to manually input the information.”

Excerpt: “Michigan received an "A plus" for both its electronic filing program and its ease of use. The report praises Michigan, noting, "The Secretary of State's online, searchable databases offer excellent options for searching, sorting, and downloading campaign finance data and are accompanied by an excellent description of the data available."”

Excerpt: “Missouri's ranking improved primarily because the ethics commission set up searchable databases in 2004 and the Legislature passed in 2007 a law requiring most candidates to file electronically. The study also praised Missouri for recently adding a download option for search results.

"Perseverance, isn't it?" said Joe Carroll, director of campaign finance for the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Carroll said that of the 2,103 registered committees, 1,591 now file electronically. Committees that spend less than $15,000 a year are still allowed to file on paper.”

Excerpt: “A national study says Montana is getting better at providing access to campaign finance information, but still ranks low.

The "Grading State Disclosure 2008" project gave Montana a "D" grade and ranked the state 38th. It is the first time Montana received a passing grade after the study flunked the state four times.”

Excerpt: “In an annual update released Wednesday, the group ranked Nevada 45th among the states in 2008 because of disclosure weaknesses such as a lack of searchable databases of campaign contributions and expenditures…

The Nevada secretary of state's office maintains a voluntary electronic filing program for candidates, but only about a fifth of the state's candidates use the system.”

Excerpt: “In a regular report card by the Campaign Disclosure Project, the state Board of Elections received higher marks on campaign finance laws and accessibility of its Web site. Last year, the state received a C-plus, and in 2003 it received a D-plus.

The state was graded well for requiring detailed information about contributors of more than $50, including occupation and employer data, as well as vendors used by candidates.”

Excerpt: “North Carolina keeps doing a better job informing voters about where political candidates get their campaign money and how it's spent.

The state received a B-minus in the annual report of the California-based Campaign Disclosure Project released Wednesday. The state got a D-plus in 2003 and C-plus last year. North Carolina ranks 23rd among the 50 states this year.”

Excerpt: “North Dakota scores poorly in rankings of state laws that regulate how political campaigns are paid for.”

Excerpt: “Tuesday's report noted that public access to state-level campaign finance data has improved dramatically due to the increase in electronic filing of campaign disclosure reports. A total of 24 states now require statewide and legislative candidates to file electronically, up from 12 in 2003. In all, 42 states permit candidates to file electronically.”

Excerpt: “South Carolina is the Second-most improved state in access to campaign finance records, rising to an overall C but remaining 33rd among the states, according to an annual survey released Wednesday by the Campaign Disclosure Project, a consortium of groups backed by the Pew Charitable Trusts.”

Excerpt: “Tennessee's state campaign finance disclosure requirements have given the public considerably more access to data showing the role of money in state politics in the past five years, according to a new study.”

Excerpt: “A grade of D-minus usually is not cause for celebration. But when Utah received that Wednesday in an annual report card on state campaign finance disclosure systems, it was the highest grade the state has ever achieved.

"A D-minus is poor, obviously. But I think we're at least moving in the right direction," said Joe Demma, chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, whose office collects and distributes data from disclosure forms. He says a new, more user-friendly system for searching that data online should be ready early next year.”

Excerpt: “It’s time to throw a bone to Washington’s campaign disclosure watchdogs. They’re doing a stellar job, according to experts that measure this kind of work.

The Campaign Disclosure Project has ranked the state’s campaign-finance disclosure as No. 1 in the country for the fifth straight year. The project, which gave passing marks to 40 of the 50 states, is the product of work by the California Voter Foundation, the Center for Governmental Studies and the UCLA School of Law.

Only Washington and California got A grades.”

  • Rethinking campaign finance disclosure, Monterey County Herald, April 7, 2006

    Excerpt: "Monterey County is taking another look at dropping a county law that requires political campaign finance reports to be posted on the Web. The rule is part of a county ordinance originally aimed at making the financial reports of county candidates and campaigns more accessible to the public. Because of logistical problems complying with the rules, county supervisors were poised to repeal the Web-posting requirement...But now county officials are taking another look at the proposed changes."
  • National: Senate system drags out financial-data disclosure, USA Today, March 5, 2006

    Excerpt: "The Senate is responding this week to a lobbying scandal by pushing proposals that would force lobbyists to disclose more information on the Internet about their dealings with lawmakers. But the Senate remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to disclosing its own campaign-finance data.

    Electronic disclosure of campaign contributions and spending is the norm for other federal political activities: presidential and House campaigns, national political parties, political action committees and even independent political groups. In addition, 25 states require electronic filing. But the Senate relies on an expensive, cumbersome, decades-old system that lags the others by weeks...

    The main impact of the Senate's self-exemption from electronic filing is that last-minute campaign contributions remain unknown to the public when people go to the polls to vote."
  • New Mexico -- Legislature Focuses on Accountability, Farmington Daily Times, January 20, 2006

    Excerpt: "The proposed legislation prohibits cash donations in excess of $100 and increases the reporting of donations to the Secretary of State from once a year in a nonelection year, to twice a year. Funds would have to be reported in May and November.

    [Governor Bill] Richardson said the state has been given an 'F' grade when it comes to campaign fund disclosure. 'My reforms would move us from an F to an A,' he said."
  • North Carolina -- Watchdog put Black on the spot; Longtime activist hopes the controversy over campaign financing will spark changes, Raleigh News & Observer, February 12, 2006

    Excerpt: "Bob Hall trained a bulky video camera on the witness stand and watched optometrists from across the state come forward, compelled to talk under oath about money they funneled to House Speaker Jim Black and his allies. The nervous eye doctors, as well as Black, were brought there in large part because of Hall, a one-time civil rights activist turned crusader for changes in how money dominates politics.

    It was a formal complaint by Hall, as research director of a Carrboro campaign watchdog group called Democracy North Carolina, that led to the hearings last week by the State Board of Elections. By the end of three days of testimony, an elections board investigator had outlined multiple violations of state elections laws involving Black, one of the most powerful political figures in the state, and his fellow optometrists. And there was the beginning of talk within the state's political ranks about one of Hall's favorite subjects: The need for reforms."
  • Tennessee -- Ethics experts call state's bill a step forward, The Tennessean, February 12, 2006

    Excerpt: "One national watchdog group said the Tennessee public would get more information about candidates and who's funding them under the new bill.

    Significant steps forward include provisions to require candidates to disclose the occupation and employer of contributors, to file multiple campaign reports every year and to file their reports electronically, said Saskia Mills, executive director of the California Voter Foundation, which analyzes campaign disclosure regulations across the country.

    In its assessment last year in campaign finance disclosure laws, Tennessee ranked 33rd. The new bill is sure to improve the state's standing, Mills said.

    But she said the public still doesn't have enough information about who's influencing campaigns. The legislature decided not to require people and groups that make 'independent expenditures' to report them. Those are campaign ads and mailers made independently of candidates but that are designed to work for or against them."

  • Iowa -- Iowa needs modern campaign disclosure, Quad-City Times, December 4, 2005

    Excerpt: "Go hunting in Iowa for Goldstein's contributions and you'd still be clicking. And printing. And pouring over hundreds of printouts. That's why Iowa got a F from The Campaign Disclosure Project's recent assessment of electronic finance disclosure. Illinois topped the nation with an A+.

    Both have Web sites to disclose information. The difference is in how the information is managed and what candidates are required to do. In Illinois, candidates are required to submit their contributions and expenditures electronically, which makes it easier for candidates and the public.

    Iowa still allows paper filing. And their entire Web system is built around those paper records. The forms are scanned, turned into images and posted on the Web. That might have been A+ work in, say, 1999. It's very old school in 2005."
  • Iowa -- Iowa campaign finance disclosure improving, but still ranks low, Quad-City Times, November 1, 2005

    Excerpt:" Iowa's system of disclosing campaign finance information improved over the past year, but it still got a 'D' from a watchdog group that said the state's main deficiency is its failure to provide searchable data. The Campaign Disclosure Project released rankings last week in which it graded all 50 states on their disclosure laws and practices. Overall, Iowa ranked 31st, up from 38th.

    'Iowa has shown significant improvement this year, raising its overall grade from an F to a D,' the report states. In addition to the state's campaign disclosure law, the availability of electronic filing, accessibility to campaign finance data and Web site utility were measured to come up with a final rating. The study--a collaboration of the California Voter Foundation, the Center for Governmental Studies and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law--was supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. This is the third year for the survey...

    'I'm glad to see we're making strides,' said Charles Smithson, executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, which collects campaign finance information in the state...

    Saskia Mills, a spokeswoman for the disclosure project, said 24 states mandate that at least some of their candidates file electronically. And even without electronic filing, she said, it still is possible to offer searchable data. In Idaho, for example, state workers input the data. 'It's better than putting static records on the Web,' she added."
  • Nevada -- Nevada's campaign laws fail in report, Las Vegas Sun, November 1, 2005

    Excerpt: "Nevada has one of the weakest campaign expense and contribution laws in the nation, a new report says. The study, 'Campaign Disclosure Project,' gives Nevada an F for the second consecutive year and ranks it 46th in the nation for campaign-reporting laws.

    Among the shortcomings in Nevada's law are that it fails to give details on donors who contribute $100 or more, such as their occupation, employer and the cumulative amount they have donated, the study said. The study also faulted the state's laws for providing insufficient details about how campaign dollars are spent and that enforcement is weak compared to other states."
  • North Carolina -- Computers frustrate campaigns, Wilmington Star News, October 24. 2005

    Excerpt: "Much depends on the success of the state board's computerization of the campaign-finance system. Strapped for resources and short of people to examine the reports, state elections administrators hope that automating the process will make filing easier and examining the reports more efficient.

    The more campaigns that file electronically, the fewer documents state workers will have to type into state computers. Currently, the campaign finance division of the state elections board is so busy having to manually enter thousands of pages listing contributors and expenses that they've only audited about 7 percent of the groups that played a role in financing the 2004 elections in North Carolina. State law requires that campaign finance forms be examined within four months of an election.

    'In the '90s, we took steps toward electronic reporting,' said Wib Gulley, a former state senator from Durham who sponsored campaign finance reform legislation that required filing by computer. 'It was always seen that we would come back and widen that for state legislative campaigns, but it didn't happen.'"
  • South Carolina -- Electronic Campaign Finance Reports Nixed in Governor's Race, AP, June 9, 2005

    Excerpt: "South Carolina voters probably won't have Internet access to information on how money influences the governor's race next year. The Legislature last month approved $318,000 to implement an electronic campaign finance reporting system at the urging of Gov. Mark Sanford.

    But the electronic campaign finance reporting the Legislature approved likely won't be operating in time for the 2006 elections, said Herb Hayden, the State Ethics Commission's executive director...

    South Carolina is one of a dozen states--including Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, Vermont and Wyoming--that does not have electronic campaign finance report filing, according to the Campaign Disclosure Project. That's a project run by the California Voter Foundation, the Center for Governmental Studies and the UCLA School of Law."

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This page was first published on September 18, 2002 | Last updated on September 20, 2008
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