Reducing the Influence of Money in Politics:
Donor Talking Points for Federal Candidates
If you are elected, there are a number of ways you can help reduce the influence of money in our democracy. I would like to talk with you about the types of legislation I would encourage you to support, and reforms you could help advocate for at the federal agency level. As you campaign, I would also urge you to talk publicly about this issue, and in particular, the reforms you support. The American people know there is a problem, but have grown cynical that their elected representatives are committed to doing anything about it—show them that you are.
I would urge you to commit to supporting legislation that advances the following priorities:
- Full disclosure. Let’s get rid of secret money and require organizations spending money in elections—including super PACs and tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups—to promptly disclose their donors.
- Example: The DISCLOSE Act sponsored by Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Van Hollen (D-MD).
- Small donor public financing. People running for office shouldn’t have to be rich or spend all of their time raising money from big donors and special interests. We need legislation that would provide qualified congressional candidates with some form of public financing.
- Example: The Fair Elections Now Act sponsored by Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and The Government by the People Act sponsored by Rep. Sarbanes (D-MD), which combines a $25 refundable tax credit with a six-to-one federal match for donations to congressional candidates of $150 or less.
- Fix the FEC. The Federal Elections Commission, the agency that’s supposed to be our nation’s campaign finance watchdog, is gridlocked and incapable of performing even its most basic duties. We need to reform this agency by reducing the number of commissioners from six to five to eliminate stalemates, or replace it with a new independent agency that can do the job.
- Example: The Federal Election Administration Act sponsored by Sen. Udall (D-NM) and The Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act sponsored by Rep. Kilmer (D-WA) and Rep. Renacci (R-OH).
There are a number of ways the next president can use his or her authority to advance campaign finance reform. This can be done through direct executive action, and through appointments to key positions at agencies such as the SEC, IRS, and FEC. Congress will also have a major role in confirming these nominees, and through its oversight authority. I would encourage you to do the following:
- Push the next president to issue an executive order requiring corporations that receive federal contracts to disclose all of their political spending.
- Push the SEC to move forward with a rulemaking that would require public corporations to disclose all of their political spending to their shareholders.
- Push the IRS to clarify how much political activity is permissible for tax-exempt organizations to stop political interests from taking advantage of tax benefits intended for legitimate nonprofit organizations.
- Push the FEC to further define political activity and coordination, and require expanded disclosure.
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