Turner Files Measures Aimed At Increasing Transparency By Elected Officials And PACs

 Reforming candidate/PAC reporting and expanding personal financial statements join “double dipping” bill to round out Turner’s transparency and ethics legislative package

AUSTIN − In addition to House Bill (HB) 413, which would prohibit so-called “double dipping” by state elected officials, state Representative Chris Turner has filed three more pieces of ethics-focused legislation aimed at increasing transparency by government officials, candidates and political action committees (PACs).

“Elected officials owe it to the people they represent to be as open and transparent as possible,” said Turner. “The changes I am proposing in House Bill 2190 will help give the public a clearer view of elected officials’ and candidates’ personal finances. By requiring us to report income from pensions, this bill goes hand-in-hand with the measure I filed to prohibit ‘double dipping’ in our state, the practice which allows elected officials to use state service to trigger state annuity benefits while still holding office.”

HB 2190 would expand the information required on Personal Financial Statements (PFS), filed by candidates and elected officials. Specifically, the measure would require filers to give a more accurate picture of their finances, including whether or not they receive income from a pension plan and if certain assets, including stocks and bonds, exceed $5 million. The bill would also require the statements to be made available online to the general public.

“I also filed a bill to address needed changes to how candidates and political action committees report their finances. Right now, there is a lot of ambiguity in the reporting system,” continued Turner. “It’s critical that the rules are made clear, especially when it comes to how much money a candidate or committee really has to spend and what debts are owed.”

HB 2191 would make improvements to the campaign and PAC financial disclosure system. The bill would clarify how much money remains unspent by an elected official, candidate or a PAC by clarifying how “cash on hand” is calculated. It would also require the filer to list outstanding debts.

“Finally, every PAC should have to follow the same set of rules,” said Turner. “Right now, someone can start a local PAC without having to wait to spend money, as state PACs are required to do. As a result, one or two people start up a fly by night so-called ‘SPAC’ one day and begin spending money the next, inhibiting the public’s ability to see where the money is coming from. My legislation simply imposes the same set of rules on local PACs that state PACs currently have.”

HB 1999 would require local specific-purpose political action committees (SPACs) to follow the same guidelines as general-purpose political action committees (GPACs). The guidelines include filing paperwork appointing a treasurer at least 60 days before money is received or spent. In addition, SPACs would no longer be able to spend money until they have received contributions from at least ten people.