Framingham State Representatives Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland) and Chris Walsh (D-Framingham) joined their House colleagues Wednesday in passing a campaign disclosure bill for Massachusetts.
The bill requires third party interest groups and PACS in Massachusetts to disclose their donors and increases the individual contribution limit to candidates to $1,000.
“It’s important that the public know who is behind the political ads we see on TV or read in the news,” said Sannicandro. “When the public knows the sources behind an ad they can make a more informed decision about its merits. This bill is good for our democracy.”
“Intentionally hiding the source of donations is the opposite of a transparent democracy,” said Walsh. “This bill goes a long way to restoring the meaning of an open and honest process.”
Since the Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited contributions to super PACs, Massachusetts lawmakers have discussed ways to handle the increase of “dark money” on the state’s elections.
The bill seeks to ensure real time donor disclosure reporting by mandating corporations, labor unions or other entities to disclose expenditures in state level races within seven days.
Additionally, TV and newspaper advertisements would have to list the top five donors to the group sponsoring the ad.
The bill also allows for candidates for office to receive $1,000 in contributions from an individual, up from the current limit of $500. That limit increase wouldn’t go into effect until 2015, while the disclosure requirements would take effect in time for this year’s election cycle.
Few other states limit individual contributions to less than $1,000. Due in large part to the increasing cost of campaigns, only Alaska and Montana have limits as small as Massachusetts. The last time the contribution limit was adjusted by the legislature was two decades ago.
The bill also allows candidates to donate campaign dollars to other candidates at the same proposed $1000 limit as long as they are not receiving public financing.