The Massachusetts State Senate has passed legislation sponsored by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) to increase transparency and accountability in the Commonwealth’s public elections.
Up to this point, the legislature and some mayoral candidates have been exempt from the law that requires statewide, county and many other municipal candidates use the depository reporting system.
The bill, An Act relative to campaign finance, seeks to remedy this disparity by requiring all legislative and mayoral candidates in Massachusetts begin participating in the system.
The legislation assists the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) to identify, early on, discrepancies between a candidate’s public disclosure of campaign finance activity and their bank accounting records.
The depository reporting system increases accountability by requiring the candidate or committee file a report that discloses all campaign finance activity, once a month, alongside their financial institution. Since depository finance reports are filed 12 times per year under this bill, transparency in campaign finance activity is significantly increased when compared with the current, outdated campaign finance requirements for legislative and certain mayoral candidates. Reports under the non-depository system are filed only two or three times a year.
This legislation will assist OCPF to more promptly address issues associated with data entry errors, missed deposits, balance issues and uncashed checks. The change will also make it easier to see how much money a candidate is raising and spending during the course of the entire election cycle.
“Nearly all candidates, including statewide officers, county officers, Governor’s Council, mayors and councilors in cities over a population of 65,000, have participated in this depository reporting system – with the exception of some mayoral and all legislative candidates,” said DiZoglio. “This landmark legislation enhances transparency and accountability in our campaign finance law by requiring that bank statements are sent to OCPF and that we disclose our sources of campaign contributions and expenditures much more often for the public to see.”