Politics

Political news

RIPR FILE

Two bills meant to discourage the misuse of campaign accounts have cleared an initial hurdle at the General Assembly.  Efforts to restore the state Ethics Commission’s oversight of the legislature continue to languish.

Legislative committees have passed a bill requiring candidates to have a separate bank account for their campaign money. Another bill would make public officeholders file an annual bank statement to back up the information in their campaign spending reports.

Candidates who’ve run for office owe a total of more than $2 million in fines to the state Board of Elections for past-due campaign reports. The board collected about $43,000 in fines last year.

Former South Kingstown State Senator Patrick McDonald owes the most – nearly $214,000 -- in the Board of Election’s newly posted list of outstanding fines. The outlook for collecting that money is considered bleak as McDonald is currently serving prison time for embezzlement.

  The state Supreme Court has agreed to consider a case involving police reports from a party hosted by the son of former governor Lincoln Chafee. The case is considered an important test of government transparency.

Aaron Read / RIPR

A House committee is slated to vote Tuesday on several bills filed after a Providence lawmaker was accused of misappropriating campaign funds. One of the bills would require officeholders to file an annual bank statement to back up information on campaign reports.

House Judiciary will also vote on bills calling for separate campaign accounts for public officeholders, and in some cases, for finance reports to be filed by someone other than the officeholder.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A good government group is supporting a bill that would bring more transparency to the process of selecting magistrates. Magistrates perform many of the same functions of judges, but they’re selected behind closed doors.

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