- Associated Press - Monday, May 12, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Attorney General Martha Coakley called Monday for a change in state campaign finance law that would require super PACs disclose their donors and expenditures more frequently.

Under current state regulations, the super PACs aren’t required to reveal their donors until about a week before the September primary. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money but must operate independently of a candidate’s official campaign.

Coakley, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor, wrote in a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers Monday that super PACs should meet the same reporting requirements imposed on ballot question committees, which must file twice monthly. Like super PACs, ballot question committees can also raise unlimited sums from donors.

“Voters are entitled to know who is supporting or opposing a candidate. This simple change will make that possible,” Coakley wrote.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance has recommended that super PACs voluntarily disclose their donors on a more regular basis. Current regulations require them to file an independent expenditure report within seven business days of spending a sum of money - on a television ad, for example - that supports the election or defeat of a candidate.

Although super PACs aren’t required to identify their donors until the next periodic report Sept. 2, campaign regulators have urged they instead reveal their donors when they file their independent expenditure reports.

Massachusetts Common Cause has also called for legislation requiring the swift reporting of donors to super PACs.

“We need very clear, real-time disclosure of donors to political advertisements,” said the group’s executive director, Pam Wilmot.

Wilmot said not only is it important to voters to know who is paying for ads, but that it’s also “not fair to those candidates who are the subject of attack ads and have no idea who’s coming after them.”

Coakley made the recommendation in the middle of an increasingly contentious Democratic primary contest for governor.

According to state campaign finance records, a least six super PACs have been created in Massachusetts since the beginning of the year.

One, the National Association of Government Employees Independent Expenditure PAC, began running a 30-second television ad last month criticizing the salary that Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker earned while chief executive of the state’s second-largest insurer, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Coakley disavowed that ad, arguing that super PAC money should be kept out of Massachusetts.

A second PAC has listed supporting Democratic candidate for governor Steven Grossman’s campaign as its main goal. Grossman is state treasurer. A third super PAC has listed a longtime Republican political operative as its chairman.

Other Democrats running for governor include former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem, former federal health care official Don Berwick and business executive Joseph Avellone. Tea party-affiliated candidate Mark Fisher is also running for the Republican nomination.

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