U.S. House Administration Committee Approves of Campaign Finance and Ethics Legislation - State and Federal Communications

February 27, 2019  •  

U.S. House Administration Committee Approves of Campaign Finance and Ethics Legislation

On February 26, legislation aimed at reforming U.S. campaign finance, lobbying, and ethic laws advanced in committee. The House Administration Committee approved of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, by a party-line vote of six to three.

In the sweeping 571-page bill, corporate PACs would be required to make certifications annually with the Federal Election Commission. Those certifications would include affirming under penalty of law no foreign national participated in any way in the decision-making processes of the PAC; corporate board members who are foreign nationals abstained from voting on matters concerning the corporation’s PAC; and the PAC did not solicit or accept recommendations from any foreign national.

The legislation expands the definition of foreign national to include any corporation, limited liability corporation, or partnership that is not a foreign national but is owned or indirectly controlled by foreign nationals meeting statutory thresholds of ownership or voting. The threshold is five percent of voting shares if the foreign national is a foreign country, a foreign government official, or a corporation principally owned or controlled by a foreign country or foreign government official. The threshold is 20 percent if the foreign national is any other type of foreign national. Corporations not considered foreign nationals would fall under the definition when a foreign national has the power to direct, dictate, or control the decision-making process of the corporation with respect to its interests in the United States or with respect to activities in connection with federal, state, or local elections.

Additionally, the bill restructures the Federal Election Commission, amends the federal conflict of interest law, and expands the revolving door provision by prohibiting Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards. Introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes, the bill requires any organization involved in political activity to disclose its largest donors, creates a multiple matching system for small donations for political campaigns, and amends rules governing super PACs.

If passed, the bill also requires presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, prohibits partisan gerrymandering, increases oversight over election vendors, creates an automatic voter registration across the country, and changes registration requirements for lobbyists and foreign agents.

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