News: CJ Exclusives

House Passes Campaign Spending Measure Expanding Disclosure

Independent groups spending more than $1,000 on electioneering would have to report electronically

A bill that supporters say would require more timely reporting by independent groups engaging in political campaigns in North Carolina passed the House by an overwhelming margin. The bill passed the House 97-16 on Wednesday and has moved to the Senate.

“The current reporting schedule is not meaningful,” said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, one of the sponsors of House Bill 918.

The bill would require many electioneering expenditures by groups not affiliated with a candidate to report the spending, often within 48 hours.

Some House members expressed concerns that the bill could result in huge databases being required because a provision would require the organizations to report the names and addresses of all entities that donate more than $100 to the group.

“What happens if a large organization decides to play a role, and they literally have a lot of contributors?” asked Rep. Mark Brody, R-Union. He said it could require the reporting of millions of donors if groups such as large unions or the National Rifle Association spent money in the state.

“More legislation does not always make everything better,” Brody said.

Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said the bill actually would require fewer companies to report than before because the reporting threshold has been increased.

“It’s just that they’ll have to report on a schedule that’s more meaningful and transparent to the public,” Ross said.

Currently, groups that spend more than $100 are required to report. The legislation would increase that threshold to $1,000.

Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, said that opponents had made independent expenditures of $100,000 against him in a campaign. “I would have liked to have had this type of disclosure in my election,” Murry said.

Barry Smith (@Barry_Smith is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.