CHARLESTON — Pursuant to the passage of SB 622, several major changes to the West Virginia campaign finance laws went into effect on June 7. The increased transparency measures in the new laws offer the public the most transparent campaign finance reporting in the history of West Virginia.
Among the changes, there are new quarterly reporting deadlines for all candidates and political committees. Additionally, the law now mandates $10 per day fines for any late reports and the names of late filers shall be published to the public on the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Reporting System.
The new law also closes loopholes for federally registered organizations that make last-minute expenditures attempting to influence the election or defeat of candidates. Those reports will now be filed electronically with the Secretary of State’s Office and available to the public with all other organizations that make independent expenditures.
“West Virginians should have a right to access and view as many details as possible that surround political spending, especially by outside groups,” said Secretary of State Mac Warner. “The increased transparency and ease of access of public information will shine some light on previously difficult to find political spending in our state.”
Additionally, the new law mandates that all political committees, not just candidates, file campaign finance reports electronically. Online filing allows for immediate public disclosure of political expenditures and contributor information that can be searched on the Secretary of State’s online Campaign Finance Reporting System.
“These new provisions provide greater transparency and additional reporting requirements for those individuals and political committees participating in West Virginia elections,” Warner added. “Our staff is prepared to assist the general public by ensuring compliance with these new rules.”
The affected provisions of the West Virginia Code may be viewed on the Legislature’s website at http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=SB622%20SUB1%20enr.htm&yr=2019&sesstype=RS&i=622.
Additionally, the WV State Election Commission published emergency rules and proposed Legislative Rules to effectuate the changes made by SB 622. The public notice and comment period for the Legislative Rules started on June 6 and will remain open until July 10 at 5 p.m.
To view the emergency rules, proposed Legislative Rules or the instructions for submitting public comments, please click the following links:
146-01 Corporate and Membership Organization Political Activity:
Emergency Rule and Notice: http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=51200&Format=PDF
Legislative Rule and Notice of Comment Period: http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=51203&Format=PDF
146-03 Regulation of Campaign Finance:
Emergency Rule and Notice: http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=51201&Format=PDF
Legislative Rule and Notice of Comment Period: http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=51204&Format=PDF
Additional information and educational materials related to the changes in the campaign finance laws can be found at www.sos.wv.gov/elections.
For questions or inquiries regarding the new provisions, please call the WV Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 304-558-6000 or email them at Elections@wvsos.gov.
— West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office