Lawmakers agree to remove PAC limits for Louisiana campaigns

Louisiana lawmakers have agreed to let candidates for office take unlimited sums directly from political action committees, in a significant change to campaign finance limits that govern donations that come largely from special interest groups.

The House gave final passage to the measure, SB4, with a 75-29 vote Thursday, sending the bill by state Sen. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, to the governor’s desk. The Senate earlier in the session had voted 29-5 for the legislation.

Gov. John Bel Edwards hasn’t taken a position on the proposal, which would take effect Aug. 1.

Political action committees represent specific industries, businesses, labor groups or other ideological organizations. They raise money from members of their companion organizations or other donors. Sometimes they’re formed to boost a specific candidate or cause.

Price described his bill as a transparency effort. He says candidates sidestep the current limits by creating multiple PACs to accept the cash, and he argues that makes it harder for the public to track who’s contributing to a candidate’s election effort.

The state Board of Ethics opposed the change. 

Current law restricts PAC donations to $80,000 for major office candidates in Louisiana, $60,000 for district office candidates and $20,000 for smaller office candidates. That cap is a total applied to the combined primary and general elections for a candidate.