Reform Groups Urge President Obama to Reject Campaign Finance Riders in Appropriation Bills


Reform groups today wrote to President Obama strongly urging him to reject all riders in appropriations bills, including four damaging campaign finance riders, and to insist that clean FY 2016 appropriations legislation is sent to him for his signature.

The reform groups include: Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Demos, Issue One, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG.

In the event that Congress does not pass clean appropriations legislation, reform groups strongly urged President Obama “to take all steps necessary to prevent the four damaging campaign finance riders from being enacted into law, including the use of your veto power if it is required.”

The letter from reform groups stated:

It is also essential to ensure that no other campaign finance riders are added to appropriations legislation and enacted into law. This is all the more necessary given the enormous damage done last year to the campaign finance laws in the Cromnibus Appropriations bill.

A campaign finance rider secretly added to that legislation at the last minute, and with no opportunity for public consideration, gutted the limits on individual contributions to a national party.  When the Cromnibus bill was signed into law, the legislation increased these contribution limits to $777,600 per donor, per year.

It is essential to prevent this year’s appropriation process from being used to further undermine the nation’s campaign finance laws.

According to the letter, “the four damaging campaign finance riders that have already been added to House and Senate 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.

The letter stated:           

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 letter from reform groups continued:

Given what happened last year, furthermore, our organizations are very concerned that an effort may be made to use the appropriations process this year to increase candidate limits.

The current individual contribution limit of $5,400 for a primary and general election (combined) already greatly exceeds the amount almost all citizens in the country can afford to contribute to a candidate. Any increase in the current candidate contribution limit would serve to increase the influence of only the wealthiest people in the country.

Individual candidate contribution limits were enacted to prevent the corrupting nexus between officeholders and influence-seeking donors. There is no legitimate justification for increasing these limits.

The letter concluded:

Our organizations strongly urge you to use the powers of your office to ensure that no   damage is done in this Congress to the campaign finance laws and to other reform efforts.

We strongly urge you to use all available means, including a veto if necessary, to block the four pending campaign finance riders and to block any other effort to undermine the campaign finance laws from being enacted.

To read the full letter, click here.