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Disclosing contributions is mandatory

November 01, 2000

Disclosing contributions is mandatory



Requiring that campaign contributions be disclosed to the public helps enforce other campaign finance laws and gives voters another way to learn about candidates, a top Federal Election Commission official said.

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant of all," said Scott Thomas, one of the six FEC commissioners in Washington, D.C.

Thomas said because public disclosure of contributions is mandatory, "limits on contributions are largely self-regulating."

"People know their opponents will be looking over their shoulder," Thomas said.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., said public disclosure laws allow the public to see whether a politician is being influenced by contributors.

"The American people have the right to know who's giving (to candidates) because citizens have a right to know if their representative's been bought," Bartlett said.

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Knowing where a candidate's support comes from can help voters better understand what that candidate stands for, Thomas said.

"You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep," he said.

- Dan Kulin

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