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Legislature Approves Campaign Finance Transparency Bill

Press Release from Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson; June 9, 2010:

Corporations Will be Required to Disclose Expenditures

NASHVILLE – A bill sponsored by State Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) requiring corporations to publicly disclose political financial contributions received final approval in the House on Tuesday.

“I’m proud that members of both parties came together and agreed that we need greater openness in our political system,” Finney said. “This legislation levels the playing field and ensures that anyone can find out how much corporations are spending on politics.”

The bill (Senate Bill 3198) will make corporations play by the same rules as political action committees and labor unions in publicly disclosing their political donations for independent expenditures.

Independent expenditures advocate or argue against a particular candidate without the consent of any other candidate. Current law prohibits direct contributions from corporations to candidates.

The legislation comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that it was unconstitutional to limit corporate independent expenditures. The state attorney general later opined that, under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, corporations could potentially keep such spending secret. Finney’s bill closes that loophole.

“When it comes to politics and money, there’s no room for secrecy,” Finney said. “Tennesseans have a right to know when corporations are spending money on politics instead of creating jobs for our citizens.”

The bill will now go to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature.

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