New city law shows trail of political cash

NASHUA – On Tuesday, Alderman-at-Large Ben Clemons saw a city ordinance he sponsored become law.

On Thursday, Clemons filed new legislation to correct an error in his bill.

Under the ordinance, residents can find out how much money unions and other organizations contributed to candidates for public office, just by going online.

Filings by candidates and contributions by political organizations and individuals will be posted on the city’s Web site within three days after being filed and will remain on the site for four years.

Also, every candidate now will be required to file papers with the city clerk, even if the candidate neither raised nor spent money. Another provision allows a candidate to file paperwork by fax or e-mail. The candidate would be responsible for following up to make sure the city clerk received the information electronically.

However, Clemons acknowledged a glitch in the text of the ordinance. The wording requires that a contributor who gives $100 or more to any candidate or to back any ballot initiative must file statements with the city clerk detailing receipts and expenditures.

However, in cases where contributions total $10 or less, only the amount needs to be noted.

Nowhere does the ordinance address contributions between $10 and $100.

Clemons’ new bill opts to change the $100 amount to $10 – thus, contributors of $10 or more must file receipts and expenditures.

Clemons said the city legal staff told him the change might not be needed because for anyone who contributes more than $100, the amount of the contribution over $10 would be reported. But Clemons said he still believes the change is needed to make sure that contributions between $10 and $99 are reported. “I’d still like to submit the legislation to see where it goes,” Clemons said.

“My intent is to go forward with it to change the loophole.”