Reporting schedule fails to require timely reporting of independent expenditures

LANSING - The Michigan Legislature has acted to revise reporting schedules for political action committees (PACs) and independent expenditure committees (superPACs), so that all PACs, including those of the legislative caucuses, are on a shared reporting schedule. Senate Bill 571 eliminates February quarterly reports for PACs and superPACs, but it reestablishes the requirement to file an annual report covering the period from October 21st through December 31st. The scheduling changes in SB 571 restore campaign finance reporting for PACs and superPACs to previously existing schedules. However, SB 571 fails to address one of the major anomalies of Michigan campaign finance reporting: the reporting of independent expenditures. In the case of special elections, any independent expenditure that is made subsequent to the last scheduled pre-election report must be reported to the Michigan Bureau of Elections within 48 hours. In the case of regularly scheduled elections, independent expenditures that occur subsequent to the last scheduled pre-election report do not have to be disclosed until the first regularly scheduled post-election report. In the case of Michigan's 2014 November elections, millions of dollars-worth of independent expenditures were first disclosed months after Election Day. "The Michigan Legislature should make real-time reporting of independent expenditures in all elections its highest order of business when it comes to amending the Michigan Campaign Finance Act", said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "Citizens should have a right to know who is paying for all campaign messages before Election Day." Correction: An earlier statement from MCFN on SB 571 failed to recognize the restoration of the requirement for PACs and superPACs to file annual campaign finance reports.

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