published Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Tennessee: Campaign finance bill on way to governor

NASHVILLE — Legislation requiring corporations to report any independent expenditures they make in Tennessee state or local political races is on its way to Gov. Phil Bredesen after the House on Tuesday gave final approval.

House members voted 92-0 and agreed with several Senate changes to the bill.

The bill came about as a result of this year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which overturned bans on corporations making independent expenditures in campaigns.

In a legislature often riven by partisanship, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville and House Assistant Republican Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga joined together on a Turner bill that dealt with the issue, said Dick Williams, chairman of Common Cause Tennessee.

“They (legislature) had gotten tied up in partisanship in some bills that deal with corporate contributions but finally they came down in the end to where a bill sponsored by Mike Turner and amended by McCormick is the vehicle they’re working on,” Mr. Williams said, shortly before final action was taken.

“Up until now, we prohibited corporate contributions period,” Mr. Williams said. “Now the Supreme Court has said you can’t prohibit them, but you can require disclosure and that’s what this bill did.”

He said otherwise, independent expenditures by corporations would have remained secret. Direct corporate contributions to campaigns remain illegal.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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