The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed three campaign finance bills aimed at increasing transparency and leveling the playing field for special election candidates. “These three bills would tighten potential loopholes that can result in abuses of campaign finance laws,” said State Rep. John Mahoney, D-Worcester, who spoke in favor of the bills on the House floor. The bills now go to the state Senate. All three bills were sponsored by State Rep. Garrett Bradley, D-Hingham, a member of the House committees on rules and ethics. One bill relates to donor limits for special elections. Currently, donors are allowed to contribute $1,000 to a candidate each year. The bill, H.542, which passed unanimously, would allow a candidate who runs in both a special election and a general election in the same calendar year to accept $1,000 from a donor before the special election and another $1,000 before the general election.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, said with a number of special elections recently, the existing law seemed to be unfair to candidates who spent a lot of money to win a special election, then faced a general election opponent. “They would be at a disadvantage, because they would have already received certain contributions in the special election,” DeLeo said.
Another bill, H.543, expands on a law requiring that when a group buys a political ad, the top five donors with contributions over $5,000 must be listed on television and print advertising. This bill would expand that to include direct mailings and billboards.
“This captures many organizations that previously evaded disclosure and will allow voters to have a better understanding of the voices behind the advertisements they receive in mailboxes and the signs they see on the road,” Mahoney said. The bill passed, 146-10.