Secretary of State Ross Miller's Landmark Campaign Finance Reforms Signed Into Law
Bills will greatly enhance accountability and transparency in Nevada elections
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pam duPré
(Carson City, NV; June 17, 2011) – Secretary of State Ross Miller says Nevada voters scored a historic victory today with the enactment of the final piece of his comprehensive package of campaign finance reform. The three bills will make it easier for voters to see who is providing financial support to campaigns and how campaign money is spent, and they will increase the transparency of activities of committees for political action (PACs) and other third-party groups.
“Nevada has entered a new era of greater accountability and transparency in political campaigns with Assembly Bills 81, 82 and 452. Voters will have access to an online searchable database to see who is contributing to campaigns and how candidates and organizations are spending their funds. Third-party groups, including those from out-of-state, who have had an increasing presence in Nevada elections, will now be required to disclose to Nevada’s voters who they are and who is financing their political activities in this state,” Secretary Miller said. “I started planning for this day before the session even started, talking with legislators and the Governor shortly after he took office about the glaring deficiencies in campaign finance reporting laws and how they could be fixed. Needless to say, we had a lot of discussion, some debate, and a few compromises. I’d like to thank the legislators who worked so hard to deliver these reforms. The electoral process and Nevadans who participate in it have scored a huge victory in modernizing our campaign finance disclosure laws.”
Assembly Bills 81, 82, and 452 address a number of aspects of campaign contribution and expense reporting and other sections of election law:
Contribution and Expense Reporting
• All candidates for public office will now file contribution and expense reports electronically with the Secretary of State’s office. Electronic filing centralized in one office allows creation of a database that can be searched by candidate, contributor, dollar amounts, and other data.
• All campaign contribution and expense reports will be filed at least four days before the start of early voting in primary and general elections, rather than just before election day when a majority of voters have already cast their ballots.
Political Action Committees & other expenditures
• All PACS, parties, committees, and individuals who spend more than $100 on a public communication such as a radio or TV ad, billboard, or mass mailing must identify in the communication who paid for it.
• All PACs, parties, committees and individuals who spend more than $100 to influence the outcome of a Nevada election must register with the Secretary of State and file annual contribution and expense reports.
• If a PAC fails to register with the Secretary of State prior to engaging in political activity in the state, the Secretary of State may impose a civil penalty for each separate ad or activity.
• Individuals are prohibited from contributing to a PAC with the knowledge and intent that the PAC will contribute that money to a specific candidate if the contribution puts the individual over the authorized limits on contributions to a single candidate.
• A foreign national may not make contributions to Nevada campaigns, and soliciting, accepting, or receiving any campaign contributions from foreign nationals will be illegal under state law, as well as federal law.
• During the period in which making and accepting contributions of $5000 or more to state legislators, the Lieutenant Governor, and Governor are prohibited, the acts of making a commitment to contribute to a campaign or soliciting a future contribution will also be prohibited.
• Expanding online voter registration to all counties will be conducted in such a way to ensure security and consistency across the state.
• A voter registration agency may not knowingly employ a person to register voters if the person has been convicted of a felony involving theft or fraud.
• A county clerk or registrar may not knowingly appoint a person as a field registrar if the person has been convicted of a felony involving theft or fraud.
• Threatening a person or using intimidation in connection with the registration of voters could constitute a category E felony crime.
• Individual minor party candidates can be placed on the ballot only if the party obtains ballot access as already required by law.
• Acts of tampering or interfering with or attempting to tamper or interfere with a mechanical voting system or computer program used to count ballots is punishable as a category B felony.
• Requirements to register as a Ballot Advocacy Group (BAG) to support or oppose a ballot question are deleted from statute; individuals and organizations must register as a PAC to engage in political activity to support or oppose a ballot question.
• The reporting threshold for such groups is lowered from $10,000 in contributions and/or expenditures to $1,000 during any reporting period.
• State holidays are not excluded from the early voting period.
• An October, 2009 regulation prohibiting county clerks and registrars from releasing results of statewide and multi-county races until the Secretary of State determines that all polling places are closed and all votes have been cast is codified.