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Ethics, campaign legislation needs approval

May 17, 2014

We want to thank former Chief Justice Norman Veasey for his comprehensive report on the state of Delaware’s ethics and campaign finance laws. It was honest and thorough. It illuminated both the problems of Delaware’s weak campaign finance laws and offered solutions which the legislators should follow through on. Government integrity should become the highest priority for this legislative session.

If trust is to be restored to government and voter apathy reduced, then reforms are essential. To protect the public interest should be the goal of both parties. In a recent letter we received from Common Cause the following recommendations were put forth.

• Requiring large contributors to political campaigns to disclose their occupations and their employers, as required at the federal level and in more than 30 other states.

• Closing a loophole that lets donors avoid limits on campaign contributions by funneling money through LLC’s and other entities under their control.

• Strengthening and clarifying gift laws and limiting the ability of lobbyists and others to curry favor by giving gifts to public officials.

• Increasing funding for the Delaware Public Integrity Commission, whose budget a fraction- less than a tenth-of the budgets of comparable watchdog agencies in Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

We are pleased to see several bills addressing the above concerns but some areas need strengthening. One of the bills, HB 284, does require large contributors to campaigns to list both occupation and their employer. It is imperative that this bill and all of the legislation, recommended by the Veasey Report pass this General Assembly. We applaud legislative leadership in working to achieve electoral transparency and fairness in government and hope that these bills receive bipartisan support in the best interest of all Delaware citizens.

Beth Doty
Rehoboth Beach
Jan Konesey
Dover

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