Several States Pass Campaign Finance Reform Measures During Midterms

During Tuesday’s midterm elections, a number of reform measures aimed at money-in-politics and ethics were on many states’ ballots. Here are the highlights from the ones that were passed or defeated.

Massachusetts

A Massachusetts measure will create a citizens commission made up of 15 Massachusetts citizens. This commission will create a report to promote amendments to the US Constitution to improve campaign finance.

The report will provide a picture of campaign finance in Massachusetts, determine whether Massachusetts can regulate corporations and their political spending, identify existing amendments related to campaign finance and figure out how lawmakers and citizens can promote these improvements.

The measure was overwhelmingly supported by Massachusetts voters, gaining more than 70 percent of the vote.

Missouri

In Missouri, voters passed Amendment 1 — also known as Clean Missouri — which will create stricter campaign finance laws for state lawmakers. This measure received more than 60 percent of the vote.

This measure most notably will change the redistricting process in the state. It will also lower the campaign contribution limits to state legislature candidates and will ban lobbyist gifts worth more than $5. Politicians will also have to wait two years after leaving office before taking a job as a lobbyist.

Arizona

Arizona voters supported a reform to prohibit candidates from giving their public financing to political parties or tax-exempt organizations that are allowed to influence a candidate’s election.

Voters supported Proposition 306 with 56 percent of the vote.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, voters supported Measure 1, which will establish an ethics commission, ban foreign political contributions and create provisions on lobbying and conflicts of interest, as well as require campaign finance information be made publicly available. The measure passed with 53 percent of the vote.

Florida

In Florida, voters overwhelmingly supported an initiative that will prohibit public officials from lobbying for compensation while they are in office and six years after. The measure will also restrict officials from using the office for personal gain.

The measure passed with 78 percent of voters supporting it.

New Mexico

New Mexico voters also strongly supported money-in-politics reform. Amendment 2 passed with 75 percent of the vote.

The measure will create a seven-member ethics commission that will investigate allegations of ethical misconduct by state officials, executive and legislative employees, candidates and lobbyists.

South Dakota

Not all of the campaign finance measures passed. South Dakota voters struck down Amendment W, a broad measure on campaign finance reform. The measure failed with 54 percent of voters opposing it.

This amendment would have placed restrictions on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers, reduced special interest money, banned campaign contributions from foreign sources and created an independent ethics commission. The measure would have also created a system for publicly financed campaigns.

However, South Dakota did have another measure on campaign finance that did pass.

Measure 24 will ban individuals, PACs and other entities that are outside of the state from making contributions to ballot committees, which are groups that receive money to either support or oppose a ballot initiative. This measure passed with 55 percent of the vote.

Colorado

In Colorado, a measure that would have loosened campaign contribution limits was defeated.

Under Amendment 75, if a state office candidate gives $1 million or more to their own campaign or candidate committee, then the other candidates in that same race are allowed to accept donations that are five times the normal contribution limit.

This initiative failed with 66 percent of voters opposing it.