While much criticism has been lobbed at the federal system for failing to adequately identify who is spending money to influence campaigns, 35 states have independent spending disclosure laws that are less stringent than federal election law.
In fact, in 30 states it’s impossible to total how much money outside groups are spending on campaigns, information that is mostly available when it comes to federal contests.
That’s according to a new 50-state analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which graded the states on disclosure requirements for super PACs, nonprofits and other outside spending groups.
Fifteen states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin — received an “A” grade, meaning the states’ laws were at least as robust as federal independent spending requirements.
New Jersey and Virginia, states where residents will be casting votes for governor and state legislature this year, were among 26 states that received a failing grade.
The others were Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming.
States were graded on a 100-point scale, based on how much information is provided to the public about non-candidate organizations that buy ads, often negative and misleading, just before an election. Six states — Alabama, Indiana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota and South Carolina — didn’t garner a single point in the survey.