WV Clean Elections Legislative Update by Julie Archer

March 25, 2005

Campaign Finance Reform

By Julie Archer, WV-CAG

Last week the Senate Judiciary took up SB 245, intended to reign in 527 groups like ‘And for the Sake of the Kids’ and ‘WV Consumers for Justice’ by regulating electioneering that masquerades as “issue advocacy” and requiring significant disclosure about its sponsors.

These communications currently escape regulation by stopping short of expressly advocating a candidate’s election or defeat.

The bill was sent to a subcommittee, where because of the 'West Virginians for Life' requested amendment to exempt 501-c-4 organizations, an amendment offered by Senator Andy McKenzie to exempt 501-c-6 organizations was adopted.

Such groups are generally “commercially-oriented” non-profits like the WV Chamber of Commerce and trade organizations like the WV Medical Association or the WV Education Association.

In a later meeting, the subcommittee reconsidered a revised version of the bill that exempted only 501-c-3 organizations, which are by virtue of their tax status, prohibited from engaging in political activity. Unfortunately, an amendment was offered by Senator Weeks to again exempt 501-c-4 organizations. The amendment was adopted by the sub-committee, but the c-4 exemption was removed by the full committee when they adopted an amendment offered by Senator Jenkins.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

SB 247, which would establish a pilot project to provide full public financing to legislative candidates in two Senate and three House races in single member districts has yet to be placed on the committee agenda, but we have had assurances from the Chairman and we are still holding out hope that it will be taken up.

Your calls can still make a difference. Call Senate Judiciary Committee members and urge their support today!

Voter-Owned Elections

Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246