Fair Elections Groups Urge Congress to Reject Campaign Finance Riders

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In a letter reform groups sent last week, they strongly urged U.S. senators and representatives to reject what they called damaging campaign finance riders that have been attached to pending House and Senate Appropriations Committee bills.

The groups also urged members of Congress to oppose any new campaign finance riders that would weaken or undermine the campaign finance laws.

The groups included Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Issue One, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and Sunlight Foundation.

The letter stated:

Our organizations believe that all of the riders pending on appropriations bills should be rejected and that clean FY 2016 appropriations legislation should be passed by Congress. In the event Congress does not pass clean appropriations legislation, we strongly urge you to oppose the inclusion of any of the four damaging campaign finance riders in the appropriations legislation sent to President Obama.

The letter also stated, “Enormous damage was done to the campaign finance laws at the end of the congressional session last year by adding a new rider at the last minute to the Cromnibus Appropriations bill. This must not be allowed to happen again.”

The letter stated:

While Congress has failed to send any FY 2016 appropriations bills to the White House this year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have considered a number of appropriations bills to which a number of damaging riders have been attached, including four very damaging campaign finance riders.

According to the letter:

The four damaging campaign finance riders already that have already been added in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to appropriations bills would:

  • Prevent the White House from issuing an Executive Order requiring disclosure of campaign finance activities by government contractors;
  • Prevent the IRS from issuing new regulations to stop nonprofit groups from misusing the tax laws to spend secret contributions in federal elections;
  • Prevent the SEC from issuing regulations to require public corporations to disclose their campaign-finance activities to their shareholders; and
  • Repeal longstanding limits on the amounts that parties can spend in coordination with their candidates.

According to the letter:

The first three of these pending campaign finance riders would serve to continue keeping the American people in the dark about the anonymous donors laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in secret contributions into federal elections. Secret money in our elections provides widespread opportunities for government corruption and prevents holding public officials and influence-buying donors accountable for corrupt practices.

The fourth pending rider would repeal longstanding limits on the amounts that parties can spend in coordination with their candidates. This fourth rider was added to a Senate Appropriations Committee bill by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who for decades has led filibusters to block campaign finance reform measures from being considered by the Senate. Now, Senator McConnell wants to change the laws for his own purposes and to do so without any floor consideration by the Senate.

The letter concluded:

Our organizations strongly urge you to oppose the four damaging campaign finance riders contained in pending appropriations bills and to oppose any new rider that may be offered that would weaken or undermine the campaign finance laws. We urge you to take all available steps to ensure that none of the campaign finance riders are enacted into law.

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