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103-0 vote in House to ban PAC transfers

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House voted 103-0 Tuesday to ban the practice of transferring campaign donations from one political action committee to another.

It's the sixth year in a row the House has passed by near unanimous votes bills to ban the practice known as "PAC to PAC transfers." The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Jeff McLaughlin, D-Guntersville, said the transfers create a "shell game" that makes it impossible for voters to figure out the source of a candidate's money.

McLaughlin has watched for the past five years as his bill passed the House and then died in the Senate without coming up for a vote. House Speaker Seth Hammett said he has been assured by Senate leaders the bill would be considered in the upper chamber this session.

Gov. Bob Riley praised the House for passing the bill, but said it's not as strong as he would have liked. Riley proposed a bill that would have banned both PAC to PAC transfers and the practice of candidates transferring money from their campaign committees to another candidate.

"This reform will shine the light of accountability so citizens know the true source of campaign contributions. Although the House proposal contains an unfortunate loophole, the bill House members passed is still a step in the right direction," Riley said.

House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, attempted to amend the bill to include the ban on transferring contributions from one candidate's campaign to another candidate. The amendment failed on a 61-38 vote after McLaughlin said he feared that adding that language might cause the bill to be killed in the Senate.

McLaughlin said his bill is the first step in cleaning up election campaigns.

"What the bill will do is it will make campaign contribution reporting clearer to the average voter," McLaughlin said. "This will not cure every problem we have with our campaigns. It will address what I think is the single most egregious problem we have with our campaigns."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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