Minnesota Daily: End invisible funding

Campaign finances should be more regularly reported.

March 28, 2011- Gov. Mark Dayton pledged to release his campaign finance reports more frequently last week as part of his push toward requiring more consistent financial campaign reporting. He has also proposed needed legislation to make political donations more transparent during non-election years.

Minnesota law currently requires financial campaign activity to be reported only during an election year, leaving a 13-month gap between the last reporting period of one election year and the first month of the following election period.

However, candidates spend and receive money during this non-reporting period. It does not make sense to require reporting only half of the time when politicians are spending and receiving money all the time.

Elected officials make important fiscal decisions, such as setting state budgets, during this off-election year. Unreported donations from special interest groups could influence budget priorities without Minnesotans ever knowing.

The proposed law requires any political campaign, candidate or committee that spends or receives more than $5,000 in one year to file quarterly reports with the Campaign Finance Board.

Federal law already requires quarterly reporting of a federal candidate’s activity to the Federal Election Commission. The proposed legislation would simply pull Minnesota’s reporting laws up to par.

In order to improve the transparency of the political system, Dayton’s campaign finance reporting bill needs to be considered and passed by the Legislature. Citizens deserve to know who is supporting elected officials at all times, especially when budgeting decisions are being made.

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