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M a s s a c h u s e t t s


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Campaign Disclosure Law
Electronic Filing Program
Disclosure Content Accessibility
Online Contextual & Technical Usability

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The State of Disclosure in Massachusetts

As its rank at number three reflects, Massachusetts has one of the best campaign finance disclosure programs in the country. Unfortunately, its weak campaign finance disclosure law significantly brings down its overall grade.

Under Massachusetts law, candidates must file once in non-election years and once before each election. Detailed information must be provided for all contributions of $50 or more, with occupation and employer disclosed for contributions greater than $200. Information about all expenditures of $50 or more must be disclosed, but subvendor information does not have to be reported. Independent expenditures must be disclosed but not last-minute independent expenditures, and last-minute contributions are not reported prior to an election. Electronic filing is mandatory for statewide and legislative candidates.

Massachusetts does a very good job of making campaign finance information accessible to the public. The state posts campaign finance data on its site as soon as it has been filed. It has nearly comprehensive databases of contributions and expenditures that are searchable on a number of fields, but not expenditure description. In addition, the databases allow users to sort search results on up to seven different fields simultaneously. Site visitors are also offered many different choices for viewing itemized campaign finance information by browsing, searching or downloading all of the files.

Massachusetts could make some small changes to improve the usability of its web site. The state does a very good job of providing an overview of campaign financing trends for statewide and legislative candidates and also does an excellent job of explaining which filers' reports are available online and which are not. The state could improve its list of candidates, which does not include information about the offices being sought, the districts or party affiliation. Unfortunately, the lack of information about candidates makes it difficult to conduct a search of either database because the site user needs to know the office being sought. The state could also improve the terminology on its site and list the reporting periods in candidates' filings.

Disclosure Agency: Office of Campaign and Political Finance
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This page was first published on September 17, 2003
| Last updated on September 17, 2003
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