Gov. Brewer signs campaign-finance bill into law
HB2788 ensures rapid disclosure of corporate/union electioneering
PHOENIX – Fans of freedom of speech and transparency in government had something to cheer Thursday as Gov. Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2788 into law.
The campaign-finance reform measure, spearheaded by Secretary of State Ken Bennett, will require next-day disclosure anytime a corporation or union bankrolls a significant advertisement in favor or against a political candidate. The bill brings the state of Arizona into compliance with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that green-lighted independent expenditures by corporations and unions in candidate races.
“This legislation strikes a delicate balance, respecting the 1st Amendment while instituting tough mandates to ensure that Arizona voters are aware whenever a union or corporation is attempting to influence their vote,” Secretary Bennett said. “Without swift passage, Arizona voters could have gone through an election season not knowing the groups responsible for some of the political advertisements we hear and view through the TV, radio and mail. I applaud the lawmakers who unanimously approved this legislation, and Gov. Brewer for signing it into law.”
The measure includes an emergency clause and will take effect immediately, pending pre-clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice. That means it will be implemented in time for the state's Aug. 24 primary election and Nov. 2 general election.
The legislation was made necessary by a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in the case of Citizens United v. FEC, which struck down bans on corporations and unions tapping their general treasury in directly advocating for and against candidates. HB2788 establishes a legal framework for those independent expenditures while requiring disclosure to voters. The measure specifically requires:
“Paid for by” disclosure within corporate or union campaign ads in candidate races.
Next-day reporting anytime a corporation, union or LLC spends more than $5,000 on an independent expenditure in a statewide race, $2,500 for a legislative race or $1,000 for a local race.
Filing of additional reports for subsequent expenses that exceed those thresholds.
The Secretary of State's Office will maintain an online database for easy viewing of corporate, union and LLC campaign spending in state and legislative races. Campaign-finance records in local races will continue to be reported to local elections officials.
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View HB2788 as chaptered by the Secretary of State's Office here.