More disclosure of GOP campaign money wanted

March 24, 2011 3:29:10 PM PDT
It's easy to find out who has given money, who has gotten money and how much has changed hands. It's all on the State Board of Elections website, but it has to be reported first. And in a non-election year, like 2011, lawmakers don't have to report until June 30.

For Bob Hall at Democracy NC, that's a real problem -- especially this year.

"People saying, oh boy, we better jump on board," Hall said. "We know who the winners are now and it's these GOPers. So, the team has changed.

In the seven weeks between the November election and the end of the year, a period that was reported. Hall says over $240,000 were given to lawmakers, 97 percent to Republicans. But what they got in the next four weeks and who gave it to them is still a secret.

"Half a million dollars could have changed hands," Hall said. "We don't know who gave that money, and they're at the General Assembly right now asking for things from the people they gave the money to."

Hall has the support from State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett. Bartlett has been calling for more disclosure for years.

"I think we should be consistent and have quarterly reports every year," Bartlett said.

A couple of months ago Hall and other advocates for open government sent a letter to leadership in both parties asking them to set a new disclosure date. He also asked that they voluntarily report fundraising in January. Republican leaders say they're considering at least the first part.

"I think you'll see a bill come forward that will call for, on a going forward basis, a quarterly report in the election year and non-election year," said one lawmaker.

But Republican leaders say it wouldn't be retroactive.

So, will we find out about January anytime soon?

"The answer to your question is no, not until the end of June," replied Thom Tillis, Republican speaker of the house.

Certainly Democrats, who ran the show at the legislature for decades, could have added the new disclosure date when they were in power. But they didn't.

They argue they added more disclosure dates, but that was more than ten years ago. Hall and others say with more money than ever before in politics, more disclosure than ever before is needed.

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