Of the four categories assessed in the Grading State Disclosure
study, states across the country performed best in the area
of Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws. Four state laws
received grades in the A range, and there were more B grades,
17, in this category than in any of the others. Twelve
Cs and five Ds round out the passing states; twelve states failed
the disclosure law assessment.
- 29 states require a contributor's occupation and employer
to be disclosed.
- 5 states require only a contributor's occupation to be
- 2 states require only a contributor's employer to be
- 35 states require late contribution reporting.
- 49 states require a description of an expenditure.
- 22 states require subvendor information to be reported.
- 40 states require independent expenditures to be reported.
- 23 states require last-minute
independent expenditure reporting.
- 26 states conduct mandatory desk reviews.
- 16 states conduct mandatory field
States with the strongest disclosure laws, in rank order from
one to eight, are: Washington; California; Georgia; Montana;
Kentucky; Minnesota and Oregon (tied); and Hawaii, Missouri
and North Carolina (tied).
States with the weakest disclosure laws, in rank order from
39 to 50, are: Maryland, New York, Tennessee and Utah,
(tied); Indiana; Nevada and New Mexico (tied); Iowa; Alabama;
Wyoming; South Dakota; and North Dakota.
The study found that all states require disclosure of some
itemized contributor information, and in almost all states there
is a threshold for the reporting of those contribution details. (Contributions
below the threshold are reported in aggregate, but not itemized.) Twenty-nine
states require the disclosure of both occupation and employer
information for contributors, and an additional seven states
require one or the other, but not both. Last-minute contributions
must be disclosed prior to the election in 35 states.
Every state but North Dakota requires the reporting of campaign
expenditures, and 21 states have no threshold for disclosure
of individual expenditures, instead requiring campaigns to itemize
each expense even for amounts as low as one dollar. All
49 states that require expenditure disclosure also require descriptions
of expenditures, either through a plain-language description,
the use of a descriptive code or both. Twenty-two states
require reporting of subvendor expenses, such as a breakdown
of credit card or consulting bills. While 40 states require
the reporting of independent expenditures, only 23 states require
last-minute independent expenditures to be reported before the
Some would argue that a state's campaign finance disclosure
laws are only as good as their enforcement provisions; to that
end the study found that many of the states are lacking. Twenty-six
states conduct mandatory desk reviews of campaign finance disclosure
filings, and 16 states conduct mandatory field audits of campaign
finance-related receipts and documents. Some states that
do not require such reviews by law, do conduct them anyway,
but in general, enforcement is an area of campaign disclosure
law that could be improved in most states.