Year in review: A recap of donor disclosure and privacy policy in the first half of 2022

State legislative sessions are winding down. This will be our last edition of The Disclosure Digest for the next few months as we take a short break and gear up for 2023.. We’ll be back later this year to help you get ready for the 2023 sessions. For now, please enjoy this look back at the 2022 session, and as always, thanks for reading!

Disclosure Digest

State legislators have considered at least 143 bills on donor disclosure and privacy policy this year. Some of these bills required the disclosure of donor information, such as names, addresses, and donation amounts, while others prohibited certain types of disclosure and expanded donor privacy. Of the 143 bills we tracked this year, Republicans sponsored 48, Democrats sponsored 62, and bipartisan groups or committees sponsored 33. 

Ballotpedia also covered six court cases in Alaska, Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington that affected or could affect disclosure and privacy policy.

Let’s take a look back at session activity in 2022 and how it compares to past years.

Enacted legislation

Of the 15 bills on donor disclosure and privacy enacted this year, 11 focused on disclosure and four focused on privacy. Seven bills were passed in Republican trifecta states while three were in Democratic trifectas. 

Disclosure bills:

  • Colorado HB1060 sets limits on contributions to candidates for school board director and require candidates to disclose campaign contribution information to the secretary of state. 
  • Florida H0921 prohibits a foreign national from making or offering to make contributions or expenditures in connection with any election held in the state.
  • Indiana SB0134 requires appropriations of any donation from a nongovernmental organization to a state agency or local unit of government to be listed in a separate line item in the budget of the state or local unit of government. The budget line item must specify each individual state employee or local government employee, whichever is applicable, whose salary is funded in whole or in part from the donated money.
  • Indiana SB0388 requires a postsecondary educational institution to submit a report to the Indiana commissioner for higher education disclosing gifts of at least $50,000 from a foreign source. 
  • Kentucky HB301 prohibits a state government employee from accepting contributions to assist with election administration unless entered into as a lawful contract.
  • Kentucky HB740 requires a candidate exempt from filing a campaign finance report to file a 30 day post-election report of receipts and disbursements. It would also require a candidate who is exempt from filing for the primary who advances to the regular election to refile for the filing exemption. 
  • Maine LD1754 requires contributors giving more than $100,000 to a political action committee or ballot question committee for the purpose of influencing a ballot question to file a disclosure statement with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
  • Maine LD1782 prohibits a ballot question committee from making contributions to a candidate or political action committee if the contributed funds are derived from a business. 
  • Virginia HB492 requires campaign committee treasurers to keep accounts of campaign contributions and expenditures and authorizes the Department of Elections to conduct reviews of a percentage of campaign committees.
  • Wyoming HB0049 increases the penalty for failing to file disclosure reports.
  • Wyoming HB0080 requires all campaigns and political action committees to file an itemized statement of contributions and expenditures.

Privacy bills:

  • Kansas HB2109 prohibits a state agency from requesting or releasing the personal information of donors to 501(c) organizations.  
  • Utah HB0040 prevents the disclosure of the names and information of donors or prospective donors to a governmental entity.
  • Virginia HB970 prohibits government agencies from requesting or disclosing donor information from any 501(c) organization. The bill exempts the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act of 2006 from the privacy requirements.
  • West Virginia HB4419 removes restrictions on candidate and campaign caucus committees’ donations to their affiliated state party executive committees or a caucus campaign committee.

In comparison, we tracked 40 bills during the first five months of 2021, and eight of these bills had been enacted by this point in the year. Three of the enacted bills were focused on disclosure and five were focused on privacy. In 2020, we tracked 48 bills in the first five months of the year, and four of those bills had been enacted. 

Court activity 

Gaspee Project v. Mederos

On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not take up Gaspee Project v. Mederos, a lawsuit challenging Rhode Island’s campaign finance disclosure regulations. The court’s refusal to hear the appeal means a lower court ruling upholding the state’s law will stand.

Smith v. Helzer

On April 7, five Alaska residents and several independent expenditure groups sued the Alaska Public Offices Commission in U.S. district court challenging donor disclosure requirements enacted through a 2020 ballot measure. 

Ofsink v. Fagan

In a March 22 filing, three Oregon nonprofit groups asked the Oregon Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on a series of campaign finance ballot measures. On March 18, the court rejected the groups’ request to overturn Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s (D) decision barring the initiatives from appearing on the general election ballot. If the court rejects the groups’ request, the petitioners would have to start the initiative process over.

Cowboys for Trump, Inc. v. Oliver

On Feb. 15, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s disclosure requirements for political action committees. Cowboys for Trump (also known as C4T), a group founded by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin (R), filed the original suit after New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) ordered the group to register as a political action committee or pay a fine.

Washington v. Grocery Manufacturers Association

On March 2, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) announced a settlement with a grocery trade group, ending nine years of litigation over the group’s alleged failure to disclose its donors’ identities in a campaign against a 2013 ballot initiative. Under the terms of the settlement, the group will pay a reduced fine in return for accepting responsibility for violating Washington’s disclosure laws and agreeing not to pursue an appeal.

Kissel v. Seagull

On Jan. 19, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut issued its final ruling in Kissel v. Seagull, striking down a Connecticut statute that required paid solicitors to disclose the names and addresses of donors to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection upon request. 

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 143 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure and privacy. Of these bills, 116 are primarily focused on disclosure, and 27 are primarily focused on privacy. To reflect this distinction, the charts in this section and the recent legislative actions below are divided between disclosure legislation and privacy legislation. On the maps below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Donor disclosure legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Donor privacy legislation

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

Donor disclosure legislation

  • Louisiana SB473: This bill would require postsecondary education institutions to disclose the source of any foreign gifts. 
    • Republican sponsorship
    • This bill was referred to committee on May 16.

Donor privacy legislation

No legislative actions were taken on privacy bills this week. 

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