Gov. Gerald L. Baliles yesterday renewed his call for campaign finance reform in Virginia, the only state that specifically exempts political parties from disclosing the sources of their contributions to candidates.
"In any campaign the voters must be clearly apprised of how much money is involved, where it comes from, who it goes to and how it is spent," Baliles said in a letter to the chairmen of the two legislative committees that are expected to take up reform proposals in the weeks ahead.
One of the chairmen, Sen. Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. (D-Fairfax), announced yesterday that he had already filed legislation to close the Virginia loophole by requiring that the state Democratic and Republican parties report the sources of donations exceeding $100 and earmarked for specific candidates.
Under Virginia law, an individual donation sent to a candidate via one of the major political parties may show up on the candidate's financial report as a donation from the party, rather than from the individual who gave it.
Baliles had first called for changes in the state's campaign finance laws last fall, during a pre-election swing through Fairfax County, where Democrats complained that Republicans had in effect laundered about $150,000 in contributions from developers to GOP candidates.
Later, the governor likened the spending in last year's state and local races to "an arms race."
In his letter to Gartlan and Del. Ford C. Quillen (D-Gate City), the chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee of the House of Delegates, Baliles asked lawmakers to study ways to strengthen the disclosure law and equip the state Board of Elections with the means to "regularly analyze" candidates' campaign reports.
Also, the governor asked the legislature to considering increasing the penalties for violations of the state fair elections practices law.