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Campaign finance and ethics reform act passes TN house

The Tennessee House chamber passed comprehensive legislation last week that will provide increased transparency and accountability in elections.

House Bill 1201, sponsored by House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and State Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, will close loopholes which have in the past been exploited by special interest groups attempting to hide their identity or activities days before an election.

The law would provide a mechanism to make reporting and disclosing of campaign finances more transparent so that Tennessee voters can truly make more informed decisions.

As amended, the bill proposes several reforms to the state’s existing campaign finance laws. Tax exempt organizations that spend $5,000 or more within a 60-day window of an election would be required to disclose their total expenditures.

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The bill requires a 501 (c) (4) that spends a minimum $5,000 for campaign materials or communications naming or showing the likeness of a candidate within 60 days of an election to report expenditures.

The legislation enhances interim reporting for candidates and PACs of contributions and expenditures received 10 days before an election. One of the most important changes is that the bill would extend civil penalty joint liability to candidates controlling or serving as officers of PACs. It would prohibit PAC funds from being used to pay assessed penalties on those PACs. Information about House Bill 1201 can be found here.

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