Mississippi reaches campaign-finance compromise

Monday, March 30, 1998

Mississippi lawmakers last week reached an agreement on campaign-finance reform that would require stricter disclosure of donations and spending of soft money.

The state’s House and Senate must act on the compromise before it goes to the governor.

The compromise requires candidates to file reports of large, last-minute donations and mandates that political parties disclose expenditures and donations of more than $200. The agreement lowers the reporting threshold for all political candidates to $200, down from the state’s present threshold of $500.

The agreement also requires soft money donations–unlimited contributions by corporations, unions and businesses to political parties–be used only for party building activities and not for supporting candidates. While critics of soft money view the donations as a way for special interests to influence politics, supporters see them as free speech.

“This is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation we have passed in 20 to 25 years around here,” said Rep. John Reeves, R-Jackson, one of the House negotiators.

“It goes to the very heart of the campaign process and the election process in this state, and I hope it will bring about some accountability and more faith in the system,” Reeves said. “I am really proud of it.”

–From Associated Press reports.