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FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007

House passes bill requiring disclosure of campaign ad funds

MONTGOMERY (AP)— The Alabama House continued its efforts Thursday to reform the way election campaigns are financed.

The House voted 105-0 for a bill that requires disclosure of those paying for advertisements about a candidate, including material sent by mail and calls from a phone bank. The sponsor, Rep. Randy Hinshaw, D-Meridianville, said the bill is aimed at anonymous ads, phone calls and fliers that say disparaging things about a candidate, but include no disclosure of who paid for the material.

Current Alabama law requires financial disclosure only for ads that specifically ask people to vote for a certain candidate, Hinshaw said.

"It's just closing of the loophole that has allowed people to say all kinds of scandalous things without having to say where the money came from. It's hard to know who to sue if you don't know who paid for it," Hinshaw said.

The bill now goes to the Senate for debate. It's the second campaign reform measure passed by the House in the early days of the 2007 regular session. Last week the House unanimously approved a measure that bans the practice of transferring campaign donations from one political action committee to another.

Hinshaw received a warmer reception than he has in past years for similar legislation that would have forced nonprofit organizations to disclose the source of funding to influence votes on issues such as creating a lottery or tax increases. That bill elicited a negative response from some lawmakers, who said the bill was aimed at forcing the Alabama Christian Coalition to disclose the sources of its money.

Several lawmakers questioned Hinshaw at length Thursday about whether this bill would force churches to disclose the names of contributors.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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