An Act To Increase Transparency in Reporting of Party Committees, Political Action Committees and Ballot Question Committees
Sec. 1. 1 MRSA c. 25, sub-c. 3 is enacted to read:
§ 1051. Disclosure of donations to fund transition and inaugural activities
The Governor-elect may solicit and accept donations for the purposes of financing the costs related to the inauguration of the Governor-elect and financing the operations related to the transition to the office of Governor. If the Governor-elect accepts donations, the Governor-elect must establish a committee and appoint a treasurer who is responsible for keeping records of donations and for filing a financial disclosure statement required by this section. All donations received must be deposited in a separate and segregated account and may not be commingled with any political contributions received by the Governor-elect or the political committee of the Governor-elect or any personal or business funds of the Governor-elect or any other person.
The commission may adopt procedures and forms for the committee to use to disclose its donors. In developing the required format of the financial disclosure statement, the commission shall consider the ease with which the public will be able to access the information and the reasonableness of the burden on the committee or the committee's treasurer.
Sec. 2. 21-A MRSA §1004-A, as amended by PL 2009, c. 302, §§1 and 2, is further amended to read:
§ 1004-A. Penalties
The commission may assess the following penalties in addition to the other monetary sanctions authorized in this chapter.
When the commission has reason to believe that a violation has occurred, the commission shall provide written notice to the candidate, party committee, political action committee, committee treasurer or other respondent and shall afford them an opportunity to appear before the commission before assessing any penalty. In determining any penalty under subsections 3, 4 and 5, the commission shall consider, among other things, the level of intent to mislead, the penalty necessary to deter similar misconduct in the future and the harm suffered by the public from the incorrect disclosure. A final determination by the commission may be appealed to the Superior Court in accordance with Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 7 and the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 80C.
Penalties assessed pursuant to this section that have not been paid in full within 30 days after issuance of a notice of the final determination may be enforced in accordance with section 1004-B.
Sec. 3. 21-A MRSA §1004-C is enacted to read:
§ 1004-C. Enhanced penalties for violations with aggravating circumstances
Notwithstanding any maximum penalty set forth in this chapter, when assessing a penalty or monetary sanction, the commission may double the authorized penalty or monetary sanction for a violation occurring less than 28 days prior to an election day and may triple the authorized penalty or monetary sanction for a violation occurring less than 14 days prior to an election day.
Sec. 4. 21-A MRSA §1012, sub-§§1-A and 1-B are enacted to read:
Sec. 5. 21-A MRSA §1017, sub-§5, as amended by PL 2011, c. 522, §1, is further amended to read:
Sec. 6. 21-A MRSA §1017-A, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2009, c. 190, Pt. A, §8, is further amended to read:
Sec. 7. 21-A MRSA §1017-A, sub-§4-A, ¶E, as amended by PL 2007, c. 443, Pt. A, §17, is further amended to read:
Sec. 8. 21-A MRSA §1017-A, sub-§4-A, ¶F is enacted to read:
Sec. 9. 21-A MRSA §1017-A, sub-§4-B, ¶D is enacted to read:
Sec. 10. 21-A MRSA §1019-C is enacted to read:
§ 1019-C. Reports of covered transfers
(1) Designates, requests or suggests that the funds be used for independent expenditures or makes the transfer or payment to another person for the purpose of making or paying for independent expenditures;
(2) Makes the transfer or payment in response to a solicitation or other request for a transfer or payment for the making of or paying for independent expenditures or for making a transfer or payment to another person for the purpose of making or paying for independent expenditures;
(3) Engages in discussions with the recipient of the transfer or payment regarding independent expenditures or makes the transfer or payment to another person for the purpose of making or paying for independent expenditures; or
(4) Made independent expenditures in an aggregate amount of $5,000 or more during the 2-year period ending on the date of the transfer or payment or knew or had reason to know that the person receiving the transfer or payment made independent expenditures in such an aggregate amount during that 2-year period.
"Covered transfer" does not include a transfer or payment made by a person, business entity or political action committee in the ordinary course of any trade or business conducted by the person, business entity or political action committee or in the form of investments made by the person, business entity or political action committee.
"Covered transfer" does not include a transfer or payment made by a person, business entity or political action committee if the person, business entity or political action committee making the transfer or payment prohibits, in writing, the use of the transfer or payment for independent expenditures or covered transfers and the recipient of the transfer or payment agrees to follow the prohibition and deposits the transfer or payment in an account that is segregated from any account used to make independent expenditures or covered transfers.
"Covered transfer" does not include transfers or payments of less than $1,000 in aggregate to a single recipient during any 12-month period.
The report must contain an itemized account of each covered transfer, including the name of the transferor, the date of the covered transfer, the amount of the covered transfer and the name of each payee or creditor.
If the entity making the covered transfer has received more than $5,000 in funding from other sources for the purpose of directly or indirectly financing independent expenditures, the identities of those other sources and the amounts of funding received from them must also be reported.
Sec. 11. 21-A MRSA §1052, sub-§§1-A and 1-B are enacted to read:
Sec. 12. 21-A MRSA §1053-B, as amended by PL 2011, c. 389, §36, is further amended to read:
§ 1053-B. Out-of-state political action committees
A political action committee organized outside of this State shall register and file reports with the commission in accordance with sections 1053 and 1058. The committee is not required to register and file reports if the committee’s only financial activity within the State is to make contributions to candidates, party committees, political action committees or ballot question committees registered with the commission or a municipality and the committee has not raised and accepted any contributions during the calendar year to influence a campaign in this State. Nothing in this section exempts a political action committee organized outside of this State from filing reports of covered transfers pursuant to section 1019-C.
Sec. 13. 21-A MRSA §1059, sub-§2, ¶E, as amended by PL 2007, c. 443, Pt. A, §35, is further amended to read:
Sec. 14. 21-A MRSA §1059, sub-§2, ¶F is enacted to read:
Sec. 15. 21-A MRSA §1060, sub-§6, as amended by PL 2011, c. 389, §47, is further amended to read:
Sec. 16. 21-A MRSA §1062-A, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2009, c. 190, Pt. A, §28, is further amended to read:
Sec. 17. 21-A MRSA §1062-A, sub-§3, ¶¶A, B and C, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 483, §21, are amended to read:
This bill makes the following changes to the laws governing campaign finance reporting and disclosure:
1. It authorizes a Governor-elect to establish a committee for the purpose of receiving donations to finance inaugural activities and the Governor-elect's transition into office and establishes requirements regarding disclosure and lobbying;
2. It authorizes the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to impose enhanced penalties for campaign finance violations occurring shortly before election day;
3. It defines "bundled contribution" and requires that party committees and political action committees report the name, address and employer of each person reasonably known by the committee to have made a bundled contribution;
4. It requires that party committees, political action committees and ballot question committees report contributions aggregating $1,000 or more and expenditures of $1,000 or more made after the 14th day before the election and more than 24 hours before the day of the election within 24 hours of the contribution or expenditure;
5. It requires that political action committees, party committees and ballot question committees report the name and office or the office sought of a Governor, constitutional officer, Legislator or a candidate for such an office who solicits contributions during the reporting period;
6. It defines "covered transfer" as a transfer of funds by a person, entity or political action committee when there is intent or understanding that the transfer is to be used to make or pay for an independent expenditure and requires that any entity making such a transfer report that transfer; and
7. It increases the penalties for failure to register as a political action committee or as a ballot question committee and for late filing of required reports.