Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., plans to make his 2012 election finances an open book — and he hopes groups that donate to political campaigns will do the same.
Walz is a co-sponsor of a bill that would require corporations, super political action committees, and unions to report campaign donations.
“What we are trying to do is build the coalition and get people on board,” Walz said in an interview Friday. “No one is comfortable with the idea of not having disclosure.”
A 2010 Supreme Court decision led to the creation of super PACs, a new breed of political action committees that can solicit and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against a candidate. Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates like most PACs, though they must report donations on a quarterly basis.
It isn’t clear what effect, if any, super PACs will have in Walz’s re-election bid in Minnesota’s 1st District. Walz is running against Allen Quist, a former state representative and gubernatorial candidate, and state Sen. Mike Parry.
Walz said if a super PAC creates advertisements or other efforts to support or hinder his campaign, he’d like to know who’s behind it.
“I want to know who’s doing them so I can be an informed consumer of the ad,” Walz said.
Walz’s effort to promote transparency in government isn’t limited to campaign finance: He and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, co-authored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which would ban insider trading on Capitol Hill. the bill passed the House last month and now the Senate needs to either approve it bill or send it back to a conference committee for further adjustments before it’s forwarded to President Barack Obama, who has committed to signing it into law.
“I just think the more that people have the ability to see what the government does, it starts to reassure them that the process is working right,” Walz said.
Since Walz was elected in 2006, 34 percent of his campaign funding has come from PACs, with individual donors contributing 60 percent, according to records. His campaign is currently debt-free, with just more than 1 million raised in 2011. Since his election in 2006, Walz’s major donors have included Mayo Clinic, the American Association for Justice, the National Education Association, and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union.