Gallagher Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Increase Transparency and Accountability of Political Spending
WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Representatives Gallagher (R-WI), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), three of the co-chairs of the Congressional Reformers Caucus, introduced a bipartisan bill to increase disclosure and accountability of political spending. The Political Accountability and Transparency Act, H.R. 7267, would strengthen coordination rules between super PACs and individual campaigns to ensure that super PACs truly operate independently from candidates, require political advertisements to disclose the top donors to the organization paying for the advertisements, and would apply the “personal use” restriction on campaign funds to all political committees, including leadership PACs.
“The American people deserve to know who is spending hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle to influence their vote and muddy our politics,” said Rep. Gallagher. “This bipartisan bill is critical to injecting more transparency into our campaign finance system and helping reduce the corrosive influence of dark money in our elections. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important piece of legislation.”
“For too long, we’ve allowed outside money to play an outsized and arcane role in our politics, blurring the lines between special interest groups and the candidates they support,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “The Political Accountability and Transparency Act will close some of the most gaping loopholes in our campaign finance laws by increasing restrictions and reporting requirements for outside groups. This bipartisan bill will help restore integrity and trust in our nation’s political process.”
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer. “Americans deserve to know who is paying for the political ads they see regardless of how those ads are purchased. The Political Accountability and Transparency Act slams shut campaign finance loopholes and shines a light on the murky world of dark money.”
“The Political Accountability and Transparency Act addresses some of the most obvious flaws in federal campaign law that repeatedly frustrate members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. We are pleased to see these leaders of the bipartisan Congressional Reformers Caucus put forward solutions to help fix America’s broken political system,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee.
H.R. 7267 tightens coordination rules between Super PACs and individual campaigns in several ways. For one, the bill would apply to the coordination that happens before a candidate is officially running for office if the spending occurs after the candidate is running for office. The bill would also apply broadly to any ads paid for by super PACs that promote, attack, support or oppose a candidate. Further, H.R. 7267 would apply to any communications that mention a candidate starting 120 days before a primary and going through the general election, and it explicitly covers all types of activity in addition to mass-broadcast communications, including mail and canvassing literature. Lastly, this bill strengthens the restriction on staff moving from a campaign or official office to an outside spender and, in the case that it does happen, requires a robust firewall.
Another goal of H.R. 7267 is to provide voters with additional information on who pays for political advertisements. The bill would require television, radio, and internet advertisements to display, within the advertisement itself, the three largest donors to the organization paying for the advertisement. This would apply to super PACs, 501(c) nonprofits, and other corporate entities.
Finally, H.R. 7267 aims to limit the widespread abuse of leadership PAC funds. Issue One and the Campaign Legal Center revealed widespread abuse of leadership PACs by Members of Congress, who are increasingly using these funds for five-star dinners, high-end vacations and country club memberships, all under the guise of “fundraising expenses.”
The full text of the bill is available here.