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Fargo lawmaker wants more 'transparency' from outside political groups

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A lawmaker is proposing a measure she said would help to bring transparency to political spending.

State Rep. Karla Rose Hanson (D-Fargo) said her bill would apply to outside groups, also known as the 501-C-4 groups. She told the interim Judiciary Committee the standards would be similar to those required of candidates, political parties and political action committees, in that donors of $200 or more would be made public.

"Disclosure standards are not limiting anyone from spending money to influence the outcome of an election," Hanson said. "It just allows us to know who is behind that specific ad."

Hanson said that’s more in line with what the sponsors of the state Constitution’s new Article 14 had in mind when they circulated their initiative petition, which voters approved. She said the measure also includes a provision that the independent group has to have the names of their top three donors as part of the disclaimer on any political advertising.

"These dark money groups often have vague-sounding names, like 'North Dakotans for North Dakota,' or 'A Brighter Future for North Dakota,'" Hanson told the committee. "That doesn't tell the voter anything about what they are or who's behind it. This provides just a little more transparency."

The Committee will have further discussion of that proposal at a later meeting.

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