HARRISBURG, April 7 – Concerned about the influence that special interests and advocacy groups have on elections, state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., plans to introduce a bill that would require disclosure of expenditures for political communications.
“Everyone has the right to make their voices heard, but with the proliferation of political and issue advertising in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s difficult to know who is behind the advertising,” DeLissio said. “My legislation would not restrict those voices, but help level the playing field by improving transparency and accountability regarding the money spent to influence elections.”
DeLissio’s bill would require individuals, advocacy groups and special interests engaging in organized political communication to register with the Department of State and file regular disclosure reports.
“This would be similar to the reports that candidates and political parties are already required to file during election cycles. The reports would list the names of people and entities that contribute to the sponsors of the advertising,” she said.
Under the bill, any advertisement or message that refers to a candidate or elected official would be considered “political communication,” and if the message or advertisement was made within 60 days of an election, it automatically would be considered political communication, regardless of whether or not it advocates for a candidate. Failure to register or file a report would be a misdemeanor, subject to as much as a $5,000 fine and/or up to two years in jail.
“There is a sense among many that government is broken. One way to fix our broken government is to reform the electoral process that produces it. My bill would help make the electoral process fairer and more transparent and our government more responsive to the average Pennsylvanian,” DeLissio said.
This bill is part of a legislative package introduced by House Democrats to improve transparency in state government and restore the public’s confidence that government will be responsive to their needs, not just those of wealthy individuals, corporations and other special interests.