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Letter: Updating N.H. Election Law

To the Editor:

Political campaigns, even in a small state such as New Hampshire, are expensive. It’s neither surprising nor unethical that candidates accept donations, large and small, from numerous individuals and entities. What disturbs many voters is that we don’t know who might be spending huge sums in support of particular candidates, in hopes of influencing future legislative decisions.

Because of loopholes in current financial-disclosure laws, outside groups and individuals can spend lavishly to influence elections without reporting those expenditures. Several bills going through the New Hampshire Legislature would close those reporting loopholes. Voters would be able to know who is behind a campaign. When groups from outside New Hampshire are involved, voters could take that into account in casting their ballot.

Closing loopholes in this way does not change the spirit, intent and scope of current state law as it applies to reporting independent expenditures. It simply updates it to include the new groups — mostly from outside New Hampshire — that now spend millions to influence our elections. The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire urges the Legislature to pass improved campaign finance disclosure laws. In particular we support a completely new definition of “political committee” designed to include all the groups spending more than $2,500 in independent expenditures, so that they will be required to make detailed reports of those expenditures.

Liz Tentarelli

Co-president, League of Women Voters NH