Attorney General Lynn Fitch unveiled a comprehensive campaign finance reform package for legislative consideration this session. The package closes gaps in the law that permit out-of-state special interests to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence Mississippi elections in anonymity and with impunity.
“Last year, we were asked to investigate several instances of clearly unethical and immoral campaign behavior,” said Fitch. “But we discovered they were not criminal under our current laws. We have devised a package of reforms that will tighten the laws to keep outside special interests from meddling in our elections, to give Mississippi voters the tools to know who is trying to influence their vote, and to hold bad actors accountable. The people of Mississippi deserve to control their own elections.”
The package improves transparency and accountability by:
- Adding definitions of coordinated expenditures and coordinated communications that must be reported by campaigns;
- Prohibiting all corporate contributions over $1,000 – not just those made by Mississippi corporations, which is current law – and running the penalty for violations against the candidate;
- Increasing criminal penalties for violations, including adding a penalty of perjury to all campaign finance reports, which can carry up to 10 years in prison;
- Streamlining the civil penalties process by eliminating grace periods that can put off any enforcement until after elections are done and by making it a one-agency – not two – process; and
- Giving the Secretary of State authority to do his job to make the public portal a usable tool for voters and to require filed campaign finance reports are readable and complete.
“If a special interest wants to come into our state and tell us how to vote, our laws should not give them a cloak to do it in secrecy,” continued Fitch. “When they go too far and push the limits of truth and decency, our laws should not be a shield that stops the people of Mississippi from holding them accountable. Our laws should work for our people to ensure that Mississippi elections are for Mississippi voters.”
In addition to this campaign finance package, Attorney General Fitch has also proposed legislation as part of her Empowerment Project agenda, a crime package, and a series of bills to protect children and families. Read more here.