Two bills are moving through the Georgia General Assembly which, if passed, will modify campaign finance laws for state and local elections.
Introduced with bipartisan support, HB 333 passed the State House of Representatives unanimously. The bill would make several changes to increase the regulatory authority of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, the state agency charged with regulating campaign finance for state and local candidates, by among other things:
- expressly allowing staff attorneys of the Commission to initiate investigations and file complaints regarding campaign filings and use of campaign funds;
- clarifying the statutes of limitations for when allegations of wrongdoing must be brought;
- extending the period for which campaign records must be retained, with a minimum of three years from the date of the particular contribution or expense;
- clarifying that unused funds from a campaign may not be loaned to the former candidate, the former candidate’s business, or any nonprofit organization for which the former candidate has a controlling interest or receives a salary; and
- requiring the Commission to adjust campaign contribution limits in increments of $100.00 every four years.
HB 333, the current version of which is available here, is pending in the State Senate.
The State Senate recently passed SB 221, which would create a new entity under campaign finance laws called a “leadership committee.” The legislation defines a “leadership committee” to mean “a committee, corporation, or organization chaired by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor” or a party’s nominee for Governor or Lieutenant Governor and committees designated by the majority and minority caucuses in the House and Senate. The legislation would allow such leadership committees to accept contributions and make expenditures to affect the outcome of an election or to advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate. Because Georgia law currently does not permit candidates to have separate committees (separate from their own campaign committee), this legislation, if passed, would allow certain elected officials or candidates to have a leadership committee that is separate from that person’s campaign committee.
SB 221, the current version of which is available here, passed the State Senate by a vote of 30-21 and is now pending in the State House.
The Georgia General Assembly will adjourn sine die on March 31, 2021. The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman are actively monitoring whether these bills pass both chambers and move to the Governor for consideration, and have significant experience representing clients in a variety of campaign finance and election-related matters and. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.