Disclosure Roulette

Legalizing slot machines is a big issue in Maryland.  Lawmakers are seeking to expand disclosure of funds spent in support of, and in opposition to, the measure.  A long and worthwhile quotation from the Sun’s article explains lawmakers are

moving to tighten up campaign reporting requirements for the November referendum on legalizing slot machines, as both sides gird for what’s eslotmach.jpgxpected to be a free-spending battle to win voters.The Senate heard two bills last week that would expand and clarify the mandates for groups and businesses to report their expenditures on either side of the slots debate.When legislators decided in last fall’s special session to put the question of legalizing slots to a referendum, they also took a step to give voters more information about how much was being spent, and by whom, to influence the outcome.The slots legislation included a provision requiring any corporation that spends more than $10,000 on campaign materials to file reports with the state Board of Elections before and after the vote Nov. 4.But some legislators say they have since realized that the campaign-spending disclosure provisions tacked onto the end of the 74-page bill leave potential loopholes.“We wanted to make sure we were casting a wider net,” said Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat who is sponsoring one of the reporting bills. He voted for the slots referendum last fall.

Maryland law does not limit how much money can be donated to a group fighting for or against a ballot question. There are no limits on spending, either.

“We just wanted to make sure the public gets a sense of who’s paying on both sides,” Madaleno said.

His bill, which had a hearing Wednesday, would broaden the current reporting requirement for corporations to include other types of business entities, including partnerships, limited liability companies and investment trusts.

It also would require reporting any expenditures, not just spending on “campaign materials,” such as advertising, broadcast commercials and fliers, which were covered by the law passed last fall.

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