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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: April 21, 2016 04:49 PM
From: Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pay to Play Disclosure
Every year, Pennsylvania awards hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts for goods and services. These contracts are supposed to be awarded based on quality of work and efficiency of cost, not the size or frequency of a contractor's campaign contributions.

Unfortunately, there is a perception among the public that this is not always the case. The growing influence of money in Pennsylvania elections -- particularly that of special interests -- has made the wealthiest voices the loudest and the ones with the most influence and access to government officials in Harrisburg. The extent to which these powerful and influential special interests have become entrenched in Pennsylvania politics is one of the primary reasons for the inability to reach a solution to our historic structural budget deficit.

While current law requires state contracts and their cost to be posted for public review, there is no way for the public to determine if the campaign contributions of contractors may have played a role in decisions about who is awarded state contracts -- a practice known as "pay to play."

To help provide the public more information, I am introducing legislation to strengthen campaign contribution reporting requirements for individuals and businesses that seek and are awarded state contracts. My bill would require applicants for state contracts to submit a disclosure statement listing all campaign contributions made by the applicant or intermediary to any elected official, candidate for state or local office, or political committee. Applicants would be required to disclose campaign contributions made up to a year prior to the submission of their contract proposal or bid. Furthermore, contract recipients would be required to update their disclosure statements by including any contributions made during the term of the contract and for one year following the completion of the contract. Disclosure statements would be posted on the Department of State's website and made available to the public for inspection and copying upon request.

Contractors that fail to disclose their campaign contributions may be suspended or disqualified from consideration for future state contracts, in addition to any penalties that may be assessed under other laws.

Please consider joining me in co-sponsoring this important reform legislation.