May 6, 2021 •
On May 6, a unanimous Federal Election Commission (FEC) sent a message to the U.S. Congress: prohibit political campaigns from using tactics that unwittingly enter donors into recurring contributions. As part of a package of legislative recommendations approved at its […]
On May 6, a unanimous Federal Election Commission (FEC) sent a message to the U.S. Congress: prohibit political campaigns from using tactics that unwittingly enter donors into recurring contributions.
As part of a package of legislative recommendations approved at its open meeting, the bipartisan commission asked Congress to amend current federal campaign finance law to require “affirmative consent” by donors if a political entity wants the donors enrolled in a program of recurring contributions.
As reported by the New York Times last month, campaigns involved with former President Donald J. Trump steered large numbers of their political contributors, without the contributors’ realization, into repeated periodic donations though prechecked boxes (for authorization) included on what many donors thought was a one-time payment form. The tactic has also been used by groups supporting Democratic candidates, including Actblue and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In its legislative recommendation, the FEC stated “that many contributors are unaware of the ‘pre- checked’ boxes and are surprised by the already completed transactions appearing on account statements.”
October 27, 2020 •
On October 23, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to amend and expand the Foreign Agents Registration Act to compel lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents. The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, introduced as identical […]
On October 23, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to amend and expand the Foreign Agents Registration Act to compel lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents.
The Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, introduced as identical bills in both houses of Congress by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Sen. Tom Cotton, would repeal the exemption from registration for persons, acting as agents of a covered Chinese business organization, providing private and nonpolitical representation of trade and commercial interests.
House Bill 8663 and Senate Bill 4843 would also remove the exemption for persons filing disclosure reports under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 in connection with the representation of business organizations organized under the laws of, or having their principal place of business in, the People’s Republic of China. The bill defines a covered Chinese business organization as an entity designated by the Attorney General as subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party or an entity organized under the laws of, or having its principal place of business in, the People’s Republic of China (including any subsidiary or affiliate of such an entity).
The legislation would become effective 180 days after enactment.
January 9, 2020 •
Rep. Duncan Hunter sent a letter of resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom after pleading guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds. Hunter will officially step down from his 50th Congressional District seat on January 13. […]
Rep. Duncan Hunter sent a letter of resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom after pleading guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds.
Hunter will officially step down from his 50th Congressional District seat on January 13.
Gov. Newsom decided not to call a special election so the seat will remain vacant until the November election.
July 2, 2014 •
Without any official announcement, the U.S. House Ethics Committee quietly removed the requirement that privately sponsored travel be revealed in House Members’ annual financial disclosure forms. However, when the removal of this requirement was revealed by the National Journal on […]
Without any official announcement, the U.S. House Ethics Committee quietly removed the requirement that privately sponsored travel be revealed in House Members’ annual financial disclosure forms.
However, when the removal of this requirement was revealed by the National Journal on June 30, it caught national attention and generated strong responses. In a press release from the Campaign Legal Center, Policy Director Meredith McGehee said, “With public confidence in the U.S. Congress reaching a record low of 7%, according to yesterday’s Gallup poll, you would think the House Ethics Committee would focus on building public confidence in the institution, rather than looking for ways to make their dirty laundry harder to find.”
According to the National Journal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the change “must be reversed.”
Supporters of the change argue the reporting is merely duplicative because the travel must still be reported by members to the House Office of the Clerk.
October 29, 2013 •
Demonstration to urge lawmakers to update toxic substance law
Eight moms from Portland, Maine, joined hundreds of other moms from across the country to demonstrate on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in a campaign called the Safe Chemicals Stroller Brigade. The purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness about unsafe chemicals used in household products and to urge lawmakers to consider updates to the 1976 federal Toxic Substances Control Act, which has not been updated since its passage.
The Maine moms also met with members of the state’s congressional delegation to lobby Congress for the passage of legislation proposed by Maine Sen. Susan Collins. The Chemical Safety Improvement Act would require federal regulators to test chemicals for their health effects across a variety of consumers, including children and pregnant women.
Photo of the United States Capitol by Zack Rudisin in Wikimedia Commons.
May 17, 2011 •
Members of Congress Begin to Use Smartphone Apps.
Roll Call published an article today for those who are interested in how technology is affecting government, campaign finance, and elections. In a piece called “Members launch personal apps,” Melanie Zanona discusses how Members of Congress are beginning to embrace the use of smartphone apps. What started out as a new communication opportunity could become an important fundraising tool in the upcoming elections.
According to the article, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) was the first to come up with an app last year so that he could stay in touch with his constituents. It also says the past year has seen 16 Members now offering mobile apps, most of them being Republicans.
Apps are being used to give people quick access to news, voting records, to social media platforms, and to photos.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign site has an app that allows people to donate to his campaign.
At the end of the article, they have a list showing the categories of apps and the names of the legislators who offer them.
December 3, 2010 •
A Web site dedicated to honoring the 260 women who have served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate since 1917.
I did an informal survey here at our office and asked: “Do you you know when the first woman was elected to U.S. Congress?” The answers ranged from “I have no idea” to “sometime in the 1960’s.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure either and that bothered me. Something that important is something I should know, so I found a great Web site called Women in Congress. Hosted by the U.S. Office of the Clerk, Women in Congress charts the progress of women from having no representation prior to 1917, to having a Speaker of the House of Representatives exactly 90 years later.
In 1917, Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to be elected to Congress. A Republican from Montana, Rankin was an activist for the woman suffrage movement and she was a pacifist – she was the only representative to vote against the United States’ entry into both World War I and World War II. “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last,” Rankin said when she was elected.
Rebecca Latimer Felton was the first U.S. Senator, serving in 1922 at age 87 years. She was described as “outspoken, determined, and irascible!”
Every one of the bios in Women in Congress has an important story to tell. “Battling Mary” Norton, who served from 1925 to 1951, fought for the rights of the working class. Norton personally campaigned to get the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 out onto the floor for a vote, and it passed. The law set a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour, established the 40 hour work week, and outlawed child labor (can you imagine). What a heroic woman. She said, “I’m prouder of getting that bill through the House than anything else I’ve done in my life.”
Barbara Jordan was a Democratic Representative from Texas from 1973 to 1979. A leader in the Civil Rights movement, Jordan suffered from multiple sclerosis. She championed the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Many will remember seeing her on television giving a powerful speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
Photos Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
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