BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Candidates for office in Louisiana would be able to take unlimited sums directly from political action committees, under a bill that moved nearer to final passage Wednesday.
Sen. Ed Price, a Democrat from Gonzales, told lawmakers he sponsored the legislation to do away with restrictions on contributions that largely come from special interest groups as “more of a transparency bill than anything.”
He said candidates trying to get around the limits have created multiple PACs of their own to accept the cash to help them with races. He said that makes it harder for the public to track the donations and see who’s contributing to a candidate’s election effort.
“Let’s just open it up, and forget about the cap on it, and then everybody sees the dollars that’s coming into your campaign,” Price said.
Political action committees typically represent specific industries, businesses, labor groups or other ideological organizations. They raise money from members of their companion organizations or other donors. Sometimes they’re formed to boost a specific candidate or cause.
Current law restricts PAC donations to $80,000 for major office candidates in Louisiana, $60,000 for district office candidates and $20,000 for smaller office candidates. That cap is a total applied to the combined primary and general elections for a candidate.
Price’s proposal to remove that cap won the backing of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee without objection, sending it to the full House for debate. Several lawmakers on the committee said they initially opposed the idea, but Price’s explanation changed their minds.
“It’s much easier to find when it’s attached to your name,” said Rep. Les Farnum, a Republican from Sulphur.
The Senate already has supported the measure in a 29-5 vote.
Lawmakers disregarded a suggestion from Melissa Flournoy, representing the organization Louisiana Progress Action, to raise the limit to $100,000 rather than doing away with the restriction entirely. She said the state should be discouraging the creation of shell PACs to funnel contributions, but she also said candidates should show they can raise money from voters in their districts, rather than from corporate PACs.
The bill is filed as Senate Bill 4.