Campaign-finance bills go to governor – The News Journal

Several bills reforming Delaware’s campaign-finance law await Gov. Jack Markell’s signature, although the measures are considered by some to be weaker than those offered by Republicans.

“I think its more of a campaign finance façade,” said Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, a Sharpley Republican.

The bills, offering whistle-blower protections and increased transparency on limited liability contributions, were among some of the recommendations included in former Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman E. Veasey’s report.

One measure requires entities making contributions to disclose the names and addresses of one responsible party. It also requires the state’s elections commissioner to adopt “best-practices” regarding entity contributions. It only touches on a recommendation included in the Veasey report that called for an outright ban of contributions from LLCs.

The bills also protect whistle-blowers reporting campaign-finance violations and guidance on attribution of contributions from joint banking accounts.

Veasey’s report showed, among other findings, that Markell’s campaign in 2008 accepted contributions from various limited liability companies tied to developers. The investigation also noted that several state lawmakers did not report gifts of alcohol and event tickets from liquor executive Chris Tigani worth more than $250, as required by state law.

Markell praised the bills in a written statement, saying the legislation takes “important steps to strengthen this essential part of our democracy.”

But some lawmakers – both Democrat and Republican – and good government groups argue the legislation passed so far does not go far enough. More expansive measures proposed this year, like a bill banning campaign contributions from corporate entities, languished in committee. Other bills awaiting hearings include legislation requiring the disclosure of contributors’ employer and occupation and a measure requiring lobbyists to pay a registration fee to fund the state’s starved ethics office.

Those bills don’t yet appear on Monday’s agenda, the last day for this year’s General Assembly.

House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, a Fairthorne Republican, has criticized House Democrats for neutering campaign-finance reform laws. Hudson had submitted her own legislation that bans all contributions to any political action committee by corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trusts and unions.

Ahead of the Veasey report, lawmakers and officials formed a task force to address election law, but sidestepped addressing any campaign-finance reforms, despite having Veasey attend one of their meetings.

Lawmakers also passed a bill recommended by the task force that eliminates the three county elections boards in favor of one statewide board. It also empowers the state’s election commissioner to investigate campaign-finance violations and allows for anonymous reporting for possible violations of election law.

Contact Jon Offredo at (302) 678-4271 or at joffredo@delawareonline.com or on Twitter @jonoffredo.

Campaign-finance bills go to governor – The News Journal}

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