United States Campaign Legislation Update
2022 is an election year for the majority of Congress and most states across the U.S. This current campaign cycle is bringing renewed attention to campaign issues, including many candidates missing filing deadlines in violation of campaign finance laws, the concerns around foreign influence in U.S. elections, particularly with Russia, and the record-breaking amount of donations funneling into political campaigns.
In response, calls for transparency and accountability in elections, especially campaign finance, are being made across both sides of the aisle on a national scale. A great deal of legislation has been introduced in Congress as the November elections loom. The following is an outline of recent and pending notable legislation addressing political campaign regulations.
H.R. 5997 – Crack Down on Dark Money Act
On June 16, 2022, a group of bipartisan lawmakers led by Congressman Jared Golden announced a bill that aims to restrict foreign influence in U.S. elections by imposing a lifetime ban on members of Congress, high-ranking military leaders, and senior executive branch officials from lobbying for a foreign government or political party. The legislation would compel tax-exempt groups, such as think tanks, to disclose large monetary donations and gifts from foreign powers and require political campaigns to verify donors have a valid U.S. address.
Currently, federal law prohibits foreign citizens and entities from contributing to any U.S. elections. However, the bill’s sponsors say loopholes exist, in particular the lack of a requirement that campaigns use industry-standard tools to verify the source of online contributions.
Senator Golden stated, “Our bipartisan legislation would help close each of these loopholes. Fighting foreign influence isn’t a partisan issue – It’s an American Issue.” The proposed bill comes as concern regarding foreign interference is growing six years after Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election.
House Bill H.R. 5746 – Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act
Introduced by Representative Donald Beyer on October 27, 2021, the John R. Lewis Act was an election reform bill that addressed voter registration and voting access, election integrity and security, redistricting, campaign finance, and voting rights. The bill also would have expanded voter registration and voting access and limited removing voters from voter rolls.
The bill notably set forth provisions related to election security, including requiring states to conduct post-election audits for federal elections. The bill also addressed campaign finance, including expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals and establishing an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices. Next, the bill would have required any organization that spends more than $10,000 in a federal election to reveal its political donors and would have strengthened rules to keep Super PACS independent of candidates.
The House passed this bill but it did not make it through the Senate where it was filibustered on January 19, 2022, preventing it from gaining the votes necessary to advance. Had it passed, the bill would have been the most significant overhaul of federal campaign finance laws since 2002.
H.J.Res.80 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to the authority of Congress and the states to regulate contributions and expenditures in political campaigns and to enact public financing systems for such campaigns.
This joint resolution was introduced by Representative Adam Schiff on March 24, 2022, and proposes a constitutional amendment to prohibit the Constitution from being construed to forbid Congress or the states from:
1) Imposing reasonable viewpoint-neutral limitations on private campaign contributions or independent election expenditures; or
(2) Enacting systems of public campaign financing, including those designed to restrict the influence of private wealth by offsetting campaign spending or independent expenditures with increased public funding.
The resolution has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and has not yet moved to the House of Representatives.
With increasing campaign concerns dominating the news during an election year, Congress is expected to continue to regularly introduce new legislation in an attempt to curb election interference and campaign finance violations. What Congress passes and the pace at which they move the pending legislation forward remains to be seen.
To discuss this further, please contact:
Denzel E. Okinedo (205) 458-5278 or firstname.lastname@example.org