February 7, 2020 •
GAO Issues Campaign Finance Report
On February 3, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 74-page report discussing current federal campaign finance issues.
The report, Campaign Finance: Federal Framework, Agency Roles and Responsibilities, and Perspectives, offers observations from specialists on the issues.
Specifically, the report covers the legal framework of the federal campaign finance law, various federal agencies’ roles, responsibilities, and enforcement challenges, and several perspectives on certain segments of the legal framework.
One conclusion reached is “campaign finance statutes and regulations have not kept up with the rapid expansion of campaign spending on the internet and do not regulate online political ads to the same extent as television, radio, and print ads.”
Another conclusion is that campaign finance laws related to prohibited activities for foreign nationals may be inadequate to prevent all types of foreign involvement, such as funds raised by and through 501(c) organizations or limited liability companies, which historically have not been required to publicly report their funding sources.
The report also raises the issue of differing and opposing views regarding whether the public disclosure of campaign contributions helps inform the electorate or stigmatizes those supporting unpopular candidates or organizations.
The GAO report recommends the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Department of Justice coordinate together to review policies and campaign finance guidance, while acknowledging the FEC currently doesn’t have a quorum to make changes to guidance.
The GAO was asked to review issues related to the enforcement of federal campaign finance laws by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.