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New transparency law will force big political spenders to come clean


From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, will let people see who’s really paying for political campaigns, she said.

It requires political organizations that make independent expenditures – buying ads or paying for commercials on candidates’ behalf without their explicit permission – to report how much money they spend and how they spend it.

Any time a political action committee or some other person or organization spends more than $1,000 on a candidate, it will be required to report its actions to the State Board of Elections within five days. In the two months leading up to the election, they will have to report expenses within two days.

“The people deserve to know which people and businesses are trying to influence elections and politicians,” Morrison said. “They shouldn’t be able to hide behind ‘independent spending’ and bypass our campaign finance laws.”

According to the Campaign for Political Reform, which worked with Morrison to introduce the law, there were nearly $2.3 million in independent expenditures in 2011-2012. In 2013-2014, when the governor’s race was on the ballot, Illinois saw more than $18 million in independent expenditures. Even when you take out spending on the governor’s race, independent expenditures increased by nearly 60 percent, going from $2.3 million to $3.6 million.

The law was Senate Bill 248. It takes effect Jan. 1 and will apply to the 2016 election.

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