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Testimony to Senate State Government Comm on SB 5108, a bill to increase transparency of PAC donors in WA

Statement of WashPIRG ED Bruce Speight
For Immediate Release

Washington Public Interest Research Group (WASHPIRG) Testimony in support of SB 5108, a bill to increase transparency of donors to PACs in WA
Senate State Government Committee, January 25th, 2017
Statement by Executive Director Bruce Speight

Thank you to Chairman Miloscia and committee members for today’s hearing on SB5108, as well as to Sen. Billig for introducing this legislation. My name is Bruce Speight, and I’m the Executive Director of WASHPIRG, the Washington Public Interest Research Group. WashPIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. For decades, we’ve stood up for Washingtonians, countering the influence of big banks, insurers, chemical manufacturers and other powerful special interests.

In recent years, powerful interests have been able to flood our elections with millions of dollars in political advertisements, often without fully disclosing their donors.

We support SB 5108, which would discourage the practice of moving money between different political action committees, or PACs, in order to mislead or confuse voters about who is truly funding certain political campaigns or political advertisements.

In order for our democracy to function, voters need to be able to make informed decisions about what candidates, ballot initiatives, and issues to support. Making an informed decision becomes much more difficult when the source of funding for political advertisements is obscured or hidden.

In the interest of transparency and accountability, organizations that wish to participate in our democratic process in Washington should not be allowed to set up shadow PACs to hide their true donors. SB 5108 helps ensure that our voters are not kept in the dark, by shining a light on the activity of organizations and individuals who would rather fund campaigns in secret.

I look forward to working with the committee to move this important legislation forward.

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