1,000+ warnings, violations issued under new Alabama Campaign Finance law
MONTGOMERY, Ala. —
Alabama's new campaign finance law seem to be giving some candidates trouble.
So much so, that Secretary of State John Merrill now confirms more than 1,000 warnings or violations have been issued in the 2018 election cycle.
This is part of a new state law that requires all county candidates and political action committees to file campaign finance reports with Alabama secretary of state's office. State-wide candidates were already required to do this.
Merrill emphasizes the law is important to ensure transparency and accountability.
Offenses range from filing late to failing to report specific expenditures and contributions from donors.
The new law requires Secretary Merrill to issue civil penalties to candidates who did not meet the campaign finance filing requirements.
If one candidate makes four violations in one election cycle, the case is forwarded to prosecutors.
Fifty campaign committees have already been sent to the Attorney General and local district attorneys.
If the candidate has fewer than four offenses, they can either pay a fine for the violation or they can appeal the case to the state Ethics Commission.
Merrill’s office says the Ethics Commission has granted all appeals to date, in some capacity. That includes 54 requests and a total of 113 civil penalties. They added there are still some questions as to the extent of the commission’s authority to overturn penalties.
“We don’t think it’s left up to the Ethics Commission to make the law,” Merrill told ABC 33/40. “We think the Ethics Commission is supposed to be enforcing the law. If they don’t like the law, they need to go to the legislature and ask them to change the law… They are not fulfilling the commitment they are assigned to fulfill for the state of Alabama.”