WV Senate GOP Stalls Campaign Finance Bill
Thanks to everyone who took time to contact the Senate Judiciary Committee and your legislators about SB 408, a campaign finance bill that would increase contribution limits. ICYMI, the bill stalled in committee after Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) successfully offered an amendment to the bill to increase disclosure of third-party political spending.
The amendment, which was similar to provisions included in a bill passed overwhelming with bipartisan support during the 2015 legislative session, would require any entity that spends more than $1,000 in a calendar year to disclose its donors to the Secretary of State’s office. The amendment would also close the “covered transfers” loophole, which allows large donors to contribute anonymously to secret money groups.
As Dave Gutman with the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported, two Republicans, Senator Bob Ashley (R-Roane) and Senator Ed Gaunch (R-Kanawha) voted with Democrats on the committee to add the disclosure provisions to the bill. Please thank these Senators for supporting our right to know who is influencing our elections. Send an email to by copying the list below and pasting into your email ‘To’ field:
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Increased disclosure will allow us to “follow the money” so we know who is supporting the candidates running for office and paying for those nasty TV ads. Unfortunately, most of the Republicans on the committee opposed, as Senator Woelfel put it “shedding some light on who’s spending this money.” After the disclosure provisions were adopted the bill was tabled. While it remains to be seen when or if the bill will be reconsidered, and if so whether the disclosure provisions will be included in the bill, they may well be the “poison pill” that keeps SB 408 from passing. (Click here to hear/watch Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump (D-Morgan) and Senator Mike Romano (D-Harrison discuss the bill.)
We’ll continue to keep you posted. In the meantime, we’ll be working to see if we can get some traction on disclosure in the House. On Friday, HB 4527 was introduced by Delegates Tim Manchin (D-Marion), Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson), Mike Caputo (D-Marion), Linda Longstreth (D-Marion), Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio), and Dana Lynch (D-Upshur). Like the disclosure amendment to SB 408, HB 4527 would require any group that spends more than $1,000 to influence our elections to say where the money came from. The bill would also close the “covered transfers” loophole that allows so-called “social welfare” groups to serve as money conduits to Super PACs.
Full disclosure of campaign cash is an important step to ensuring our state remains in the power of the people. Please contact House Judiciary Committee members and your delegates and urge them to support HB 4527. Tell them, secret money has no place in West Virginia. As West Virginians we stand up for what we believe in. It’s time we made the millionaires and corporations writing six-figure checks to influence our elections to do the same. We shouldn’t allow this lowly form of campaign cowardice to continue.
(Note: While all this was playing out, there was some good news with regard to campaign finance in West Virginia. Two candidates have qualified to receive public financing in this year’s Supreme Court race. Click here to read more.)