Hickey calls for campaign reform | NevadaAppeal.com

Hickey calls for campaign reform

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey called on fellow Republicans and on Democrats Monday to make meaningful campaign reform their first order of business in the 2013 Legislature.

“Voters have the right to know how much money is being given to a candidate and by whom before they vote,” the Reno representative said in a press conference.

He said that after the economy and improving education, the issue is prominent in the minds of voters as he walks his district seeking re-election.

“The root problem here is the disconnect between the citizens of Nevada and their leaders,” Hickey said.

Joined by fellow GOP Assemblymen Randy Kirner and Pete Livermore as well as candidate David Espinosa, Hickey called for legislation to require real-time reporting of contributions and spending to “empower the public” with information before both the primary and general elections. He vowed to do just that himself, saying he will report all contributions right up until the election so voters have the information they need to make a decision.

He said candidates should have to file ending-fund balance reports showing how much money they have on hand after an election and should have to report all receipts and their sources even when the Legislature is not in session.

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Hickey also called for legislation to create a cooling-off period before ex-legislators can return to the Legislature to lobby, pointing out that several former legislative leaders have routinely done so in the past.

He said that to reduce the skyrocketing cost of campaigning, lawmakers should take up one of the final legislative proposals made by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio: Move the primary elections back to the fall and reduce the campaign season.

“In shortening the length of the campaign season, we might actually create an electorate that is actively engaged rather than being turned off and tuned out by the time November rolls around,” Hickey said.

Kirner, R-Reno, said campaign finance reform isn’t a partisan issue, that the issue is accountability and transparency. He said he believes there will be bipartisan support for the changes they are calling for.

Livermore said candidates should also have to identify by name donors who give less than $100. At present, those can be grouped together as one total amount. He said he supports the proposed changes. Espinosa agreed, saying the proposals are “common-sense measures.”