Grayson-backed Bill Would Reverse the Trend
The California-based Campaign Disclosure Project recently released its annual survey rankings of states’ efforts to bring sunlight to political money, and the results were not encouraging for Kentucky. For the second straight year, Kentucky dropped in the national rankings.
"It is time that Kentucky join the rest of our surrounding states and the majority of states in the United States and require mandatory filing to bring greater accountability and transparency to Kentucky’s campaign finances."
- Trey Grayson
Secretary of State
As recently as 2004, Kentucky ranked in the top 10 in the country by this organization, but it has now fallen to 20th in the national rankings. However, the evaluation specifically cited State Sen. Damon Thayer’s (R-Georgetown) SB 159 from the 2007 Session of the General Assembly in its report as a way to address this decline. SB 159 is a top legislative priority for Secretary of State Trey Grayson who joined Sen. Thayer last month to announce that the bill was pre-filed for the 2008 session.
“This report reinforces the need for the Kentucky Legislature to pass Sen. Thayer’s campaign finance legislation, because it would require most candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically – something the report notes is a needed change for Kentucky to maintain its status as a leader in campaign disclosure,” stated Sec. Grayson. “Kentuckians deserve a system where they can access campaign finance information in the hassle-free and efficient format that electronic filing provides.”
According to the Campaign Finance Institute, 30 of the 50 states require electronic disclosure of a candidate's campaign finance reports, including all of Kentucky’s surrounding states. Because Kentucky does not require electronic disclosure, the state received an “F” in the electronic filing program score that the disclosure project issued, calling it the “state’s weak point.” It did note, however, that the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) does an excellent job of promoting electronic filing to candidates and provides many resources to help filers through the process.”
“Clearly, Kentucky’s Achilles heel in campaign disclosure is mandatory electronic filing,” noted Sec. Grayson. “It is time that Kentucky join the rest of our surrounding states and the majority of states in the United States and require mandatory filing to bring greater accountability and transparency to Kentucky’s campaign finances.”
Thayer’s bill calls for a number of recommendations from the KREF Task Force that issued a report to the General Assembly nearly two years ago. The task force featured bipartisan representation from a variety of election-related parties and included Sec. Grayson. The task force met for eight months and had more than 20 hours of public debate before it made its recommendations. Two of the task force’s top priorities, increased reporting and more electronic filing of reports, are major components of the proposed legislation.
The news from the report was not all grim for Kentucky. Kentucky fared well in categories such as disclosure content accessibility and campaign disclosure law where the report noted “Kentucky’s … disclosure law … is among the best in the country.” The site also received an “editor’s pick” for pop-up windows that display on the Web for amended transactions.
Grayson is calling on the Kentucky Legislature to take swift action on campaign finance legislation in the upcoming 2008 General Assembly session. “We have studied this issue in depth for the last few sessions, and it is time we pass this legislation in order to further improve Kentucky’s lauded elections process,” Grayson said.