This article originally provided by
Charleston Daily Mail
October 3, 2005
Ireland seeks help on finance laws
The Associated Press
Facing a major update to West Virginia's campaign finance laws, Secretary of
State Betty Ireland is asking election players for help.
As West Virginia's chief elections officer, Ireland must craft the rules that
flesh out a bill Gov. Joe Manchin signed on Friday.
Among its provisions, the new law requires financial disclosures from people
or groups that attack or praise a political candidate shortly before an
election. It also requires so-called 527 groups to register with Ireland's
office before they collect or spend money in the state. It further sets a $1,000
cap per election -- or $2,000 per election cycle -- on what an individual can
contribute to a 527 operating in West Virginia.
Ireland, a Republican, plans to form a committee of interested parties,
including labor unions and the state Chamber of Commerce, to help her write the
rules. She also plans to invite West Virginia Citizen Action Group, which has
lobbied the Legislature for election and campaign finance changes.
"A lot of different groups have different viewpoints on this bill," said
Ireland, who hopes to assemble the committee this week. "We want to get all the
stakeholders together so we can get some input."
The legislation includes at least one provision that Ireland had sought from
lawmakers during this year's regular session. It requires candidates, political
action committees and the newly regulated "electioneering communication" efforts
to keep receipts and other financial records for six months after an election.
Ireland said the measure should help her office resolve disputes that arise
over contributions or expenses listed in the reports those campaigns file with
"If we see something we need to take a look at, we can call the individual or
the organization," she said.
The provisions addressing 527 groups, named for the section of the Internal
Revenue Service code that governs them, may prove the most vexing for
rule-making. As they seek to regulate groups that already report to the IRS, and
as they include a contribution limit, these provisions could face a legal
"The Legislature felt that they needed to clamp down on these 527 groups,"
Ireland said. "It really isn't up to me to make a policy decision as to whether
527s are good or bad."
Ireland must also write rules for the new reporting requirements for people
or groups, other than candidates and political action committees, that spend at
least $5,000 to sway voters 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general
Such electioneering communications could include radio, television or print
ads, flyers, billboards, phone calls and mass mailings. The provisions also
carve out several exemptions, including news coverage, debates or candidate
forums and a voter's guide or scorecard, as long as they list all the candidates
for a given office and do not appear to endorse or oppose any of them.