Thayer seeks to end Kentucky’s limits on political giving, require more frequent reporting instead

Kentucky Lantern

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FRANKFORT — Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer is seeking to eliminate state limits on donations to political campaigns and committees while increasing the frequency of campaign finance reports to every two weeks. 

Thayer, of Georgetown, told the Kentucky Lantern after filing Senate Bill 100 that he is “making a few statements on my way out the door.” The floor leader announced before the 2024 session that he will not seek reelection to his seat in November. 

Thayer filed the bill Wednesday, just ahead of the deadline for introducing new legislation in the Senate.

“I don’t think there should be any contribution limits,” Thayer said. “The Citizens United case ruled that money is speech, and while we have contribution limits, we’re limiting speech.” 

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the Citizens United case against the Federal Election Commission that political spending is protected under the First Amendment. Additionally, the ruling found that the government cannot prevent corporations or unions from spending money for or against candidates. 

Currently, individuals, contributing organizations and permanent committees may make donations of $2,100 to candidates for state and local offices in Kentucky. Anonymous and cash donations are limited to $100. 

Thayer’s bill lifts the limit on reported contributions. It increases the limit for anonymous and cash donations and those from people under the age of 18 to $200.

Also, beginning in 2025, candidates would be required to report their contributions and expenditures to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance every two weeks if the General Assembly approves the bill. Candidates now submit quarterly reports. 

The legislation comes on the heels of an expensive gubernatorial election between Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and former Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The candidates’ campaigns and outside groups spent about $65 million to sway voters. 

Among other bills he filed Wednesday, Thayer introduced legislation, Senate Bill 350, to increase the salaries of state legislators.

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