Campaign Finance Reform

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports laws and practices relating to political campaign finance that eliminate excessive and/or inappropriate spending and promote equitable competition among candidates.
Position In Brief: 

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports laws and practices relating to political campaign finance that eliminate excessive and/or inappropriate spending and promote equitable competition among candidates.

Appropriate measures include:

  • A limit on the total amount of campaign contributions a candidate may accept from a person or an individual political action committee or PAC
  • A limit on the total amount a candidate may accept from PAC's, individuals, and out-of- state contributors
  • A limit on the total amount of contributions a candidate may accept
  • A limit on the time during which a candidate may accept contributions
  • A limit on what a candidate may spend to get elected
  • Comparable media public service time and/or space made available to candidates who agree to limit their campaign expenditures
  • Requirements that campaign contributions be used only for campaign expenses.

     

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports limits on the contributions that can be accepted by political parties in Texas and supports enforcement of regulations governing their use.

The League of Women Voters supports public financing for state elected offices in Texas. In order to receive public funding, candidates would agree to limits on private contributions and campaign spending.

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports changes in laws, practices, and policies governing political campaigns in order to protect citizens' right to know; strengthen accountability in financial reporting; combat corruption and undue influence; and promote fairness and accuracy on the part of candidates, public officials, former officeholders, lobbyists, and the media.

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports full, timely disclosure through electronic filing of required finance reports.

Specifically, the League supports:

Requirements that candidates report or disclose

  • The total amount of contributions during a year
  • In-kind contributions
  • Personal finances, income distributions, and assets/liabilities
  • Any funds deposited in a political account.

Ethical standards that include

  • A minimum time before a former elected official can become a paid lobbyist
  • A requirement that lobbyists disclose gifts to candidates
  • A fairness code governing the conduct of individuals and groups engaged in election campaign.

     

Responsibility of the media to:

  • Encourage candidates to discuss issues
  • Report inconsistencies in public statements by candidate
  • Assign reporters with appropriate expertise to cover campaigns
  • Seek independent verification of candidate allegations.

     

Responsibility of candidates to

  • Articulate their positions on issues
  • Verify allegations prior to their release
  • Control the conduct of their campaigns by staff and consultants
  • Be accountable for advertising decisions
  • Voluntarily limit campaign spending.
Position History: 

Explanation: Political Campaign Process

The League of Women Voters of Texas was founded in 1919 to carry on the work of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association after the ratification of what was then called the Susan B. Anthony amendment, giving women the right to vote in Texas. Many early activists felt that efforts to promote informed and active citizenship were a necessary and logical next step for those involved in the suffrage movement. (Source: A Texas Suffragist, by Janet G. Humphrey, 1988.) These efforts are still part of the League's mission.

In recent years, the breakdown of confidence in the integrity of the electoral process in Texas and nationwide sparked an interest among League members in examining the political campaign process and its effect on voter disillusionment and apathy. These considerations led delegates to the 1991 LWV-TX Convention to adopt a study of the Political Campaign Process in Texas, which would evaluate political campaign laws, practices, and finances, and their ethical implications. A Facts & Issues, See How They Run: The Political Campaign Process in Texas, was produced by the study committee and circulated to members, public officials, and other interested persons. Consensus was reached in the fall of 1992, and the state board announced the position in November of that year.

During the Periodic Program Review (PPR) process of 1997-98, the committee suggested additions to the 1992 position which would allow the League to advocate for public financing of campaigns and for better disclosure procedures of campaign funding. The additional positions were adopted at Convention 1999.

League to which this content belongs: 
Texas