Washington lawmakers proposing tighter campaign finance laws

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January 14, 2011

By Kyle Maichle

OLYMPIA, Washington: Members of the Washington Legislature are considering a series of campaign finance proposals aimed to increase transparency among campaign committees.[1]

State Senator Craig Pridemore is proposing a bill that would close loopholes on committee to committee transfers. The bill came in response when Moxie Media created numerous political committees that shuffled money between them to fund direct mail pieces attacking candidates. The consulting firm did not disclose their source of funding when they sent the postcards in a effort to defeat moderate Democrats in order to promote more liberal candidates in 2010. Attorney General Rob McKenna sued Moxie Media on accusations of violating campaign finance laws. Pridemore's bill would prohibit committee to committee transfers except between political parties and party caucus groups. Also, the bill would have restrictions on what names campaign committees can use.[1]

Initiative activist Tim Eyeman thinks the bill is unconstitutional on the basis of free speech. Eyeman said during a committee hearing: "How can the government pass a law that tells people and groups what they can call themselves?”[1]

State Rep. Sherry Appleton is also considering a separate bill to increase disclosure for campaign-related phone calls. House Bill 1038 would require any campaign or ballot measure committee doing 500 or more phone calls to disclose the sponsors name along with their city and state on the call. This would apply to get out the vote and push poll phone calls. Appleton's bill came in response to record spending on ballot initiatives during the 2010 elections.[1]

No date has been set on when the bills will be voted on by the full Legislature.[1]

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