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Campaign funding legislation left languishing

Governor Charlie BakerMichael Dwyer/Asssociated Press/Associated Press

As Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts GOP continue to rake in large federal campaign donations to finance their state operation, Democratic Party leaders have to be gnashing their teeth as they watch House leaders on Beacon Hill shut down their 2016 legislation session.

Left languishing is a Senate bill aimed at cracking down on a unique Republican fundraising technique.

The Massachusetts Victory Committee, a joint fundraising operation operated by the state GOP and the Republican National Committee, has continued its prodigious fundraising, according to the latest campaign finance filings. The committee, took in $465,950 in the second quarter of this year, most of which ends up back in the state party coffers. The brings its first six-month haul this year to $879,450.

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The committee, organized under federal regulations, allows donors to contribute up to $43,400 per person — significantly more than state limits.

The new legislation, proposed by Common Cause and several state senators, would tighten a 1998 law that bans state political figures from using federally raised donations. The sponsors were reacting to a ruling by state regulators in April claiming that the use of federally funded donations to support Baker’s and other state political activities is legal because of a “loophole” in the state and federal laws.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the bill, which was filed June 9, came too late for the lawmakers to deal with it before the legislative session that ends Sunday. He also wants it studied by a special task force he wants to create.

The bill also would address another area of what Common Cause calls “significant undisclosed money in politics” by requiring disclosure of money raised for party state committee races. In a fundraising blitz never seen before, Baker raised over $300,000 (with no limits on each contribution) this past winter to finance his campaign to take control of the GOP state committee. He has refused to divulge the source of the funds, and is not legally required to.

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