fair campaigns

FAIR CAMPAIGNS (1971, 1974, 1982)
Support for:
  1. Fair campaign financing. (LWVUS position)
  2. Full disclosure. (LWVUS position)
  3. Limits on Election Day campaigning.
  4. Full enforcement of election laws.


 LWVMD action is based upon the LWVUS position: “support for improved methods of financing political campaigns in order to ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and promote citizen participation in the political process” and LWVMD position supporting the Fair Campaign Financing Fund.

Our 1971 study of the Fair Elections Practices Act found that Maryland’s provisions for disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures were sound, but contained loopholes which made them ineffective. Consensus was reached supporting limits on both contributions and expenditures (limits on expenditures were subsequently deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court – Valeo vs. Buckley and that part of our position was dropped in 1981). We also favored tax incentives for persons making contributions to campaigns. The League’s 1971 study led to a new position favoring the termination of electioneering before the polls open on Election Day.
The League supported creation of the “Fair Campaign Financing Fund” for candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The Fund is financed by contributions (tax “add-on”) and was used for the first, and only time in 1994 by one gubernatorial candidate.
The League has been supporting bills to create public funding since 1997.   The General Assembly, in 2002, passed legislation creating the Study Commission on Public Funding of Campaigns in Maryland. The League was represented on the Commission, which reported its recommendations in December 2003. 
  • Supported bills to limit Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions, eliminate fundraising during the General Assembly session, limits on contributions, computerized reporting of contributions, and provisions for civil money penalties for violations of the law. (1985-1997 – achieved)
  • Opposed raising current contribution limits by 50%. (2001 and 2002 – defeated)
  • Supported creation of a commission to study public funding systems as they relate to Maryland. (2002 – achieved). The study commission recommended that Maryland adopt a voluntary public funding system for candidates for the General Assembly that would be similar to those existing in Maine and Arizona.
  • Supported bills in both chambers that would create the system recommended by the study commission for campaigns for the General Assembly. (1997-2007). A bill passed the 2006 House of Delegates (without a funding source, which was of concern to the League.) The Senate bill did not receive a vote in EHEA. Supporters focused in 2007 on the Senate, where EHEA reported its bill favorably late in the Session. No vote in Senate or House committee on respective bills.
  • Supported several bills to further strengthen campaign financing laws, among them: requiring disclosure of campaign contributions to, and expenditures by, slates; closing a loophole that allows, for example, Limited Liability Corporations, to circumvent current contribution limits; and allowing county governments to enact laws regulating local campaign finance activity that are more restrictive than state law. (several years, including 2007 – none reached the Floor in 2007 for a vote) 
  • Supported several bills pertaining to the Fair Campaign Financing Fund and Act which failed to pass. (2009 – not achieved)