House Bill 573, sponsored by Representative Diana DiZoglio, was addressed this month at a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.
Under current law, a candidate for public office who fails to file a campaign finance report will not appear on a state primary or election ballot.
If passed, this legislation, An Act relative to municipal election ballots, would extend the present campaign finance report law to municipal candidates and elections who file with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
DiZoglio delivered her maiden speech on this issue and requested an early hearing to address any potential problems with the legislation and have it reach the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.
“It is critical to have the utmost transparency when it comes to campaign finance regulations over candidates for public office,” said DiZoglio. “Yet, to date, candidates at the municipal level have been exempt from certain laws that penalize state candidates for failing to appropriately file campaign finance reports. This legislation would establish a more level playing field and promote accountability for those who run for municipal office.”
Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said it is “critical” to close this loophole.
“Timely campaign finance disclosure gives voters critical information about which interests are supporting which candidates and also gives enforcement agencies the ability to do their job,” said Wilmot. “Without it, voters are left in the dark and there is no way of enforcing critical campaign finance such as those prohibiting personal use of campaign funds. We hope the legislature will act quickly so that the law is in place prior to November’s municipal elections.”