Legislators could act next year to require organizations which wade into election campaigns independently of the candidates to disclose their activities.
Independent expenditures have exploded since a 2010 Supreme Court decision made it easier for outside groups to advertise for or against candidates.
Senate Elections Chairman Sue Landske (R-Cedar Lake) says she was blindsided to discover Indiana does not require those groups to disclose how much they have spent or on what, nor the source of their funding.
“I have not even thought about this and never seen it before so I think it’s something that the Census data committee should be very interested in looking into,” Landske says.
She notes 15 states already have disclosure requirements, and says a legislative study committee is likely to request data from those states this summer.
House Elections Chairman Milo Smith (R-Columbus) says Indiana repealed a disclosure requirement in the late ‘90s as part of a broader set of changes. He says it does not make any sense to make public the names of direct campaign donors but not people who donate to outside groups.
A Montana-based watchdog group, the National Institute on Money in State Politics, last week gave states grades based on the amount of disclosure they require from independent groups.
Indiana was one of 26 states receiving a failing grade.