A bill to allow certain donors not to disclose who they gave money to has passed both chambers of the state Legislature, and was returned for concurrence in the Senate.
House Bill 1205 provides that a public agency shall not require any entity organized under section 501(C) of the Internal Revenue Code to provide the public agency with personal information. In both its House and Senate votes, the bill was approved along partisan lines with Republicans in support and Democrats against.
West Point Democrat Sen. Angela Turner-Ford spoke against the bill, saying donations should be public knowledge.
“I did not support that,” Turner-Ford said. “I believe with political campaigns, whether it be on the municipal, county, national level, people should know who the contributors are, and I believe in transparency.”
Turner-Ford said it wasn’t fair for donors to be able to hide who they gave money to.
“I don’t think its fair whether it be an individual, or a business to contribute to a campaign, and that is not expectable or cannot be known by the public,” Turner-Ford said. “I’m very concerned about what the consequences of what this type of bill will be.”
Starkville Republican Rep. Rob Roberson spoke in favor of the bill, saying the law could help others avoid repercussions for their donations. However, he said he was still forming his complete opinion of the measure.
“They were having some issues with people who have donated, whether it be to campaigns, certain causes, they had stopped attacking the issue and started attacking the people who had donated,” Roberson said.
Roberson said he liked parts of the bill, but thought other parts needed work. He then said there was a possibility of legal challenges.
“I understand the intent,” Roberson said. “I think that certain organizations cannot just attack people getting their private information. I think it’s going to have some legal challenges because of the Freedom of Information Act allowing discourse of what groups this information is given to.
“Certain information doesn’t necessarily have to be made public,“ Roberson added.