Delaware Legislature takes up campaign finance and lobbying disclosure

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May 15, 2012

Delaware: The Delaware General Assembly is moving forward with bills to increase transparency of who influences state politics. Two House bills would require more reporting of campaign funding sources.[1] In the Senate, legislators passed a bill to publish links between lobbyists and the legislation.[2]

Since House Bills 300 and 301 passed in the House, the state Senate will now take up the pair of bills, which would mandate more third party disclosure and raise penalties for reporting violations.[1] HB 300 would require third parties to report funding for independent ads that mention specific candidates, updating current law that mandates reporting only for ads that expressly advocate voting for or against a candidate.[3] Also under HB 300, groups that donate to over $1,200 to parties or political action committees would be required to publish information on the group’s leader.[4]

HB 301 raises penalties for inaccurate or late campaign finance reports from $50 per month to $50 per day.[4]

The Senate's contribution to the transparency efforts is Senate Bill 185, which passed 15-5 and will now be considered in the House. SB 185 would require registered lobbyists to report which legislation they have discussed with lawmakers.[2] The bill was backed by Democrats and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, but saw some conservative opposition. State Sen. Colin Bonini expressed his concern that the bill would hinder small, grassroots groups without tripping up professional lobbyists. "I think you're really restricting people's freedoms unintentionally," he said.[2]

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