Changing campaign finance regulations creating challenges for KREF

06/25/2015 08:15 AM

FRANKFORT – The changing landscape of political contributions has made the work of agencies like the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) more challenging than ever.

Emily Dennis, counsel for KREF, says that organizations like 501©4, which can become involved politically in funding issue advocacy campaigns which indirectly influence elections, aren’t required by law to disclose who their donors are, and that makes it hard to trace the money.

“We’re moving into this time period where we have the Citizen’s United decision that allows independent expenditures by corporations, and certainly we’re seeing an increase in independent expenditure activity as compared to candidate campaign activity in your typical executive committees,” Dennis said. “The landscape of the law is changing faster than the agency can cope with.”

John Steffen, executive-director of KREF, agrees with Dennis and says things will continue to evolve.

“It’s become more complicated and will continue to become more complicated as tie goes forward,” Steffen said. “I think it’s a changing scene on the national level and that’s going to be affecting us more and more.”

A Tampa, Fla., nonprofit focused on enacting local right-to-work ordinances sued the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance in federal court last Thursday, claiming the state’s ban on corporate political donations violates its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The Goldwater Institute filed the action in U.S. District Court in Frankfort on behalf of Protect My Check Inc., a 501(c )(4) formed in September that’s involved in defending right-to-work ordinances passed by local governments in Kentucky.


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