Campaign amnesty bill advances in GA Senate
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By JIM WALLS
Feb. 16, 2016 –– A bill allowing local political candidates to file old campaign disclosures without penalty passed out of a Senate committee today.
The Senate Ethics Committee, without discussion, voted 6-1 to approve the legislation sponsored by Rep. Barry Fleming.
Sen. Michael Williams, the lone no vote, said afterward he did not want to appear to be condoning candidates’ failure to file campaign disclosures in years past.
Countless candidates for city and county offices filed financial disclosures with the state Campaign Finance Commission late — or not at all — after a law requiring them to do so took effect in 2010.
Many complained that the state’s online system did not appear to be working when they tried to file. Commission staffers, though, have questioned whether that excuse is legitimate for all of the non-filers.
The bill that moved forward today would allow those candidates to file a single disclosure to report all campaign donations and expenses from 2010 through 2013. (Since 2014, those candidates have filed their reports with local election officials as they had previously.)
Candidates who file the older disclosures by the end of 2016 would not incur a $125 late fee. Those who’ve already paid late fees could get a refund if they make the Dec. 31 filing deadline.
The commission would have until December 2017 to review those reports for accuracy.