A bill called the Fair Elections Now Act, HR 1826, has been introduced to Congress, and is being referred to the Committee on House Administration, along with the “Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means,” according to the bill. It is an attempt at nationwide campaign finance reform and would be a voluntary system that a candidate would have to qualify for to get funding.
According to Common Cause, a group that has pushed for this bill and has a member co-sponsoring it, if passed a system would be established that would give out four times the amount of money that a qualified candidate has received in “small dollar contributions.” They would also receive a $100,000 voucher for advertising. A small dollar contribution, according to the act, is $100 or less, but that would be subject to change. To qualify, a candidate would need to raise a certain amount of money from donors in their own state, all in small dollar contributions. Common Cause puts requirements for House candidates at $50,000 and 1,500 donors, but it would differ from state to state for Senate candidates.
There is also apparently a requirement for participating in debates, which could complicate matters for third party candidates:
‘‘SEC. 514. DEBATE REQUIREMENT.
‘‘A candidate for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress meets the requirements of this section if the candidate participates in at least—
‘‘(1) 1 public debate before the primary election with other participating candidates and other willing candidates from the same party and seeking the same nomination as such candidate; and
‘‘(2) 2 public debates before the general election with other participating candidates and other willing candidates seeking the same office as such candidate.
The Fair Elections Now Act would also limit Leadership PACs – organizations that politicians run in order to contribute to other candidates – to contributing $100 to a participating campaign, and they would limit the Leadership PAC of a participating candidate to $100 contributions to others.
The bill would also establish an oversight board whose members would be appointed by the president. This board would oversee the rules and regulations created by the law, as well as fines and penalties and general administrative duties. The board would have the ability to change the dollar amounts, which means they could change how much money is handed out and the requirements for qualification.
It would take effect January 1, 2011 if passed. It was introduced Tuesday and has yet to make it out of committee. Last year President Obama co-sponsored similar legislation in the Senate, and the current co-sponsors are counting on Obama’s support. The co-sponsors are:
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut (for himself, Mr. NADLER of New York, Ms. PINGREE of Maine, Mr. JONES, Mr. PLATTS, Mr. COOPER, Mr. HOLT, Mr. COHEN, Mr. HEINRICH, Mr. POLIS of Colorado, Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland, Mr. CAPUANO, and Mr. DOYLE)
Please feel free to read the bill and read additional articles about it. If you see anything that’s wrong in this article or anything that I missed, please let me know in the comments.