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2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.20: Campaign finance may be doomed
(Week of May 21, 2002)

MAY 17, 2002 - - A bill that would provide dozens of reforms to the state's campaign finance system is headed for the Senate, but observers say the House-passed measure likely won't pass this year because of time constraints. Three weeks remain in a legislative session where several high-profile bills are mired in stalled negotiations between House and Senate conferees.

With all of the other stuff on the General Assembly's agenda, campaign finance reform (H. 3144) doesn't have a lot of momentum. "People just aren't excited about it," one Senate leader said.

That doesn't mean this year's hard work will go for nought. Weeks of Senate subcommittee debates on the proposal will put the General Assembly in a good position to move to get campaign finance reform quickly.

Among the potentially controversial items in the reform proposal passed this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee is a section that would dramatically affect the way political parties fund candidates. Current law allows parties to provide unlimited expenditures on behalf of candidates.

The reform proposal, however, would eliminate multi-candidate expenditures by parties and would raise the "total aggregate amount receivable by a candidate from a political party to $100,000 (up from $50,000) for statewide candidates and $50,000 (up from $10,000) for any other candidates." (Source: Summary of Senate version of H. 3144, S.C. Senate).

What the provision apparently means is that joint efforts - - direct mail, outreach phone calls, television ads, radio ads and the like - - by candidates that are funded by parties would be limited. While the impact of the provision isn't crystal clear, some observers say party-building and outreach efforts to get voters to the polls could be impacted severely.

Other provisions of the campaign finance reform proposal include measures that would:

  • Require those behind ballot reform measures to file campaign disclosure reports;
  • Expand the definition of "independent expenditure" and provide reporting requirements for such expenses;
  • Expand ethics complaint rules;
  • Require electronic filing of campaign reports;
  • Raise contribution limits to $5,000 for statewide candidates and $2,500 for other candidates;
  • Require all expenditures and contributions to be reported (current law requires reporting for more than $100);
  • Remove late-filing penalty caps.

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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