Let’s use our collective “hive-mind” to develop state laws that push back against dark money SuperPacs.
We might not be able to pass federal legislation and Citizens United means we cannot limit the amount of money they are spending to buy our elections – but there are things we can do at the state level.
To start the discussion: Here are three ideas/proposals that could be used to counter the impact of SuperPacs. Please add your ideas, suggestions, and thoughts in the comment section on my blog if possible.
1. Establish a significant state tax or fee on SuperPacs. This should adjust according to the amount of funding they spend on actions to support or oppose candidates. Proceeds of this tax/fee would be used to finance publicly funded elections.
Note1 – Almost every state has a variety of taxes charged for different reasons: sales tax, general excise tax, liquor tax, tobacco tax, hotel room tax etc. Clearly different items and services may be charged different taxes. It would seem reasonable that political advertising, that supports or opposes candidates could be charged a separate additional tax. Another example: Property taxes are much higher on “investor-owned” properties than on “owner-occupied” properties – it would seem reasonable then that a tax on SuperPac advertising could be much higher than a tax on individual candidate advertising.
Note2 – Some states already require a “filing fee” for “non-candidate committees” when registering with the campaign spending commission/authority. A similar filing fee could possibly be charged to SuperPacs and “scaled up” depending on the amount of funds it expends.
2. Require SuperPacs to provide for public review their proposed electioneering materials in advance of the actual commercial dissemination. This would allow all parties the time needed to review for accuracy and respond as may be appropriate.
· Note1 – The Hawaiʻi Campaign Spending Commission already requires non-candidate committees, including SuperPacs, to comply with an existing electioneering disclosure requirement. https://ags.hawaii.gov/campaign/electioneering-communications/ “An electioneering communication means any advertisement that is broadcast from a cable, satellite, television, or radio broadcast station; published in any periodical or newspaper or by electronic means, or sent by mail…that is not susceptible to any reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”
Note2 – Under existing Hawaiʻi law this requirement does not apply to candidates or candidate committees but does apply to non-candidate committees such as SuperPacs.
Note3 – This proposal only involves expanding the existing requirement so that it includes “advance notice” and an actual copy of the “electioneering communication” to be made public at the time of that notice.
3. Require SuperPacs to present their “advertising disclosures” already now required by law, in a manner that meets the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that viewers of the television and radio advertisements can actually see, read, and hear the words describing who the sponsor of the ad is and other legally required information
Note1 – At the present time the common practice of SuperPacs is to have the audio disclosure be stated so fast that it is often literally impossible to understand, and visual disclosure similarly so small and/or flashed on the screen so quickly that it is unreadable.
former Hawaiʻi State Senator
Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org AND post your ideas and suggestions for other state laws that might be passed to help regulate SuperPacs.
Let’s get rid of this crap.