The most anticipated issues on the final day of the 2013 legislative session will include the long-debated omnibus gun bill, drug testing for welfare applicants, and the The Religious Liberty Act which would allow religiously affiliated or motivated employers to opt out of the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate.
But there is one particular bill that has not gotten a lot of publicity, but may actually have a more significant immediate impact on the Alabama political landscape.
Senator Bryan Taylor’s campaign finance reform bill (SB445) would implement numerous common sense changes to make Alabama’s campaign finance laws clearer and more enforceable — including removing the $500 cap on donations a corporation can give to a candidate.
The bill would eliminate duplicative filings, close a potential loophole in the PAC to PAC transfer ban, increase transparency by requiring any candidate who raises or spends $1,000 to file disclosure reports, and strengthens the law’s enforcability by clarifying that the candidate or PAC treasurer is held responsible for filing campaign finance reports.
Those are just a handful of the positive changes Taylor’s bill would make.
But the elimination of the corporate contribution limits will get the lions share of the attention because nothing makes a liberal’s brain explode faster than the thought of evil corporations having access to first amendment rights.
Rep. Mike Ball, who amended Sen. Taylor’s bill to remove the limits on corporate campaign contributions, told Yellowhammer that this is an issue of transparency.
“The $500 corporate contribution cap is stupid. It is a feel-good policy that actually does harm to the process and does no good whatsoever,” Ball said. “That pretend cap is the primary reason for the proliferation of PACs, because it prevents transparency by requiring contributions take an indirect route to candidates. Removing the the cap will be another step in ending the shell game that has epitomized Alabama politics for decades.”
Rep. Ball is right.
If this bill passes, instead of funneling money through a web of political action committees, companies would give money directly to candidates. Citizens could then easily access the candidate’s campaign finance reports and see exactly whose money is backing them.
There is no reason why corporations should be treated differently from individuals and other business entities, such as LLCs or partnerships. Corporations are composed of employees and shareholders whom it represents with its participation in the political process.
The Alabama Senate’s conservative majority should pass this bill to make Alabama’s campaign finance laws stronger and give us the transparency we deserve.
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