Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Legislature reforms campaign finance


February 21, 2019

The Wyoming Legislature has passed a new law that aims to reform campaign finance in the state by regulating for issues such as social media, political action committees and modern technology. Senate File 18, now Senate Enrolled Act 3, is just the second piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon, who took office in January.

“During the 2018 Election Season, several campaign finance issues presented themselves. The advent of social media, the creative use of political action committees and the advancement of technology, require a more dynamic approach to campaign finance. This bill is a good start to reforming Wyoming’s Election Code,” commented Secretary of State Edward Buchanan.

The new law is intended to enhance transparency by requiring that candidates report their expenditures and contributions simultaneously and up to two weeks before the election. It also raises the threshold for reporting from $25 to $100 to account for inflation.

Meanwhile, the new law clarifies campaign advertising provisions to now include online advertizing and defines “electioneering communications”, while requiring that campaign activity be subject to the disclosure of donors and expenditures whether or not that activity was done in coordination with a candidate. A disclosure must now explicitly state, “Paid for by…”

According to Buchanan, many of the comments received from voters expressed concern over the gray area of express advocacy in campaign advertisements. In other words, political advertising that explicitly recommends voting for or against a candidate. 

“However distasteful and disappointing advertisements from ‘Wrong for Wyoming,’ ‘Switch for Wyoming,’ and ‘Protecting Our Constitution’ may have been, they were legal in 2018. The 2020 election cycle will be different with these reforms,” he said.

“I am especially grateful to the Corporations Elections and Political Subdivisions Committees in the Senate and House for recognizing that updating the election code is essential to ensure the integrity of the election process from beginning to end.”

Senate Enrolled Act 3 will become effective on July 1.


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