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Union fights to strip reporting provision from campaign finance reform bill

The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state’s largest union, is lobbying the state Senate’s Democratic leadership to strip a provision in a campaign finance reform bill that targets the influence of super PACs.

The union and its allies are in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the bill’s Senate supporters and campaign finance reform advocates, as labor leaders try to remove language that would require political action committees to disclose the top five donors in their television ads, say two sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

The teachers association, which has spent millions of dollars trying to influence statewide elections, almost always for Democrats, wants to replace that provision with one stipulating that the names of donors be listed only on the PAC’s website, the sources said.


A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Laura Barrett, acknowledged that the union is helping to recraft the bill’s provision for disclosure requirements but did provide any details.

“The MTA supports the increased disclosure requirements and timelines in the bill’’ Barrett said “We are continuing to discuss some technical issues related to implementation, including the procedures that are used to disclose donors.”

The teachers union recently launched its own super PAC in preparation for the fall elections. It spent $2.75 million in the 2010 governor’s race, helping Governor Deval Patrick to win reelection.

Common Cause of Massachusetts’ executive director, Pam Wilmot, whose organization has been pushing the campaign finance reforms, was at the State House Thursday trying to beat back the union’s attempts to water down the bill’s disclosure requirements.

Another proposed change includes an amendment to raise the limit on contributions in cash, from $50 to $100.

House lawmakers passed the ground-breaking legislation last week by a wide margin. The bill was designed to address the 2010 Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court, which allowed unregulated money to flow into campaigns. The version of the bill approved by the Massachusetts House would create one of the strictest, most comprehensive state campaign finance laws.


Any major changes to the bill by the Senate would have to be negotiated between the two branches in a conference committee and then be approved by the full chambers.

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.