‘LaPolitics’: Lawmaker wants to do away with PAC limits

Citing a desire for more transparency across today’s fundraising landscape, Sen. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, has filed legislation to eliminate the limitations on donations that political committees can make to candidates. Price’s SB4 has been introduced for the spring regular session and duplicates the intentions of a bill filed last year by Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Shreveport. “That means the idea should have some bipartisan support,” Price said in an interview. 

Political committees must currently navigate a tiered system for their giving—the combined contribution limits (for both primary and general elections) are $80,000 for major office candidates, $60,000 for district-level candidates and $20,000 for all other office seekers. Price’s legislation would remove the caps in all of these categories. 

The real problem, according to Price, are secondary political committees, sometimes called leadership PACs, which have long been commonplace in Baton Rouge and serve as a sort of backup to the standard campaign finance accounts of candidates. In Washington, the practice can be much more complex, with lawmakers creating a web of secondary leadership committees to which maxed-out donors can be directed for another round of giving.

“Everybody is just forming different committees now to get around these donation limits,” Price says. “When you ‘PAC out’ and have reached your limit with a particular PAC, they’ll call you and tell you they have another contribution to give you. They want to know if you have a different committee they can send it to on your behalf.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are only 13 states that allow political committees to contribute unlimited amounts to candidate committees.

“It’s just hidden money,” Price says. “My bill is about transparency. Is what we have right now transparency? Or is it just a way to bypass having to directly report contributions? All contributions should be public record. Let’s take the limits off. At least we’ll know who gets what and where it’s coming from.”

New team member: New Orleans-native Cherie Teamer Henley is now of counsel with Pivotal GR Solutions, the firm’s principal, Chris Coulon, says in a news release. “Cherie is a great addition to our team at Pivotal,” he says. “She will assist with our current clients and support our presence at the Louisiana State Capitol.” Henley attended Tulane Law School and LSU, where she minored in African-American studies and political science. Henley also previously worked for the House Insurance Committee and as a legislative aide. 

They said it: “I’ll tell you what, it’s always good to have a sheriff in the duck blind. You’ll never go over the limit.”—Former Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle, on WWL Radio. 

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.