SJR 393

Joint Subcommittee on Campaign Finance Reform

December 3, 2001, Fairfax

Public Hearing

Representatives of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause of Virginia, the Center for Open, Ethical, and Accountable Government, and the American Association of University Women joined one citizen speaker in supporting campaign contribution limits, random audits of a percentage of candidate campaign reports, prompt reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures, and an election day holiday.

December 12, 2001, Richmond

Public Hearing

The joint subcommittee heard views from one citizen speaker and representatives of the Interfaith Council, Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, and the League of Women Voters. The speakers unanimously advocated adoption of some form of contribution limits to curtail special interest influence (perceived and actual), and one or more speakers supported stand-by-your-ad legislation, an improved process for restoration of civil rights, audits of campaign finance reports, and actions to increase voter turnout.

Speakers noted that the mandate for the joint subcommittee was broad and that the proposals on the agenda for the work session to follow were more limited in scope than desirable.

Work Session

The members of the joint subcommittee discussed a number of items that they had reviewed at the August work session and reached agreement that they would recommend the following bills to the 2002 Session to amend the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act:

Record retention requirements and reviews of campaign finance disclosure reports. Provides that (i) the State Board of Elections shall review the campaign finance reports of candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and 10 percent of the candidates for the General Assembly selected at random; (ii) the review shall be for the purposes of (a) reconciling the balance in the campaign depository with the amounts reported in the candidate’s reports of receipts and expenditures and (b) reviewing the reports for mathematical accuracy and factual completeness including the reporting of specific information required by law; (iii) the board shall meet publicly to select on a random basis by a drawing the General Assembly candidate campaigns to review; (iv) a campaign committee shall be exempt from review if it has received less than $25,000 in contributions; and (v) the campaign treasurer shall retain, and provide on request by the board, the bank statements and copies of checks issued on campaign depositories and receipts for campaign fund expenditures greater than $500. The bill will take effect January 1, 2004.

Elections to which the act applies. Expands coverage of the act to town elections in towns of 10,000 or more population. The present law applies only to towns of 25,000 or more population (Blacksburg and Leesburg). Towns of 10,000 or more include the towns of Herndon, Christiansburg, Vienna, and Front Royal.

Schedule for political committee disclosure reports. Sets out a single annual schedule for filing reports by PACs and political committees of six reports a year. Present law requires committees to comply with different candidate filing schedules for May and November elections depending on whether the committee is involved in a May or November election, or possibly both.

Depositories and checks; reimbursements of expenses. Permits the reimbursement, by a check drawn on the campaign depository, of expenses paid by the candidate, treasurer, or other authorized member of the campaign staff when the amount of the reimbursement does not exceed $1,000 and the expenses being reimbursed are fully documented in compliance with the reporting requirements of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act.

Mandatory electronic filing of reports. Requires General Assembly candidates who receive more than $10,000 in contributions to file campaign finance reports electronically in accordance with State Board of Elections standards and requires political committees (including PACs and political party committees subject to the act’s reporting requirements) that receive more than $25,000 in contributions to file campaign finance reports electronically in accordance with State Board of Elections standards.

The Honorable S. Chris Jones, Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Mary Spain


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