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house Bill H.R. 1308

Should Ex-Politicians Have to Disburse Leftover Campaign Funds Within 6 Years?

Argument in favor

Political donations are made for the express purpose of helping a specific candidate get elected. When a politician loses their race or leaves public office, any remaining donations should be returned to donors, distributed to other candidates, or donated to charity (per existing allowable uses) — and this should happen within a reasonable period of time.

Janet's Opinion
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05/03/2019
Yes, but I do not understand waiting six years. I would think it would be done immediately, or by the end of the first year.
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Ellen's Opinion
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05/03/2019
Actually I think they should have to disburse funds immediately but that would be almost impossible for these ConMan to give up their money so quickly
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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05/03/2019
I support this bipartisan bill. I only question why it gives former candidates 6 years. It would be much more acceptable if creditors were to be paid within a year and allowing so long does increase the likelihood that the funds will be misused for personal expenses untaxed.
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Argument opposed

The FEC already has rules governing allowable uses of campaign funds after a politician leaves elected office or loses their election. While it isn’t ideal for politicians to leave campaign funds open indefinitely, it’s not worth stretching the FEC’s already-limited resources to enforce this bill, given how few people are affected on a yearly basis.

David 's Opinion
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05/03/2019
Six years is far too long. These accounts should be locked down within one month after the election, accounts audited, and funds fully disbursed within six months following the election. No rollovers, no access, disbursements only in the form of returns to donors or donations to charity with donor’s consent.
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Jim's Opinion
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05/03/2019
Six years is insane. It should instantly go towards the national debt.
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Daniel's Opinion
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05/03/2019
Campaign funds should be delt with the same as 501(c) funds. The money should be given to a pre-stated not-for-profit organization. They shouldn’t wait six years though, it should be at the end of their current campaign.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
    IntroducedFebruary 15th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1308?

This bill — the Let It Go Act — would require that campaign donations be disbursed out from a candidate’s campaign coffers within six years after the end of a candidate’s campaign or tenure in office. This would entail first paying any debts or obligations owed by the campaign, and then choosing between one or more of three options: 1) returning donations to donors, 2) donating the money to a charity, or 3) sending the funds to another national committee.

This bill would also require anyone who’s registered to become a lobbyist to resolve their campaign accounts within a year of this bill’s enactment.

Impact

Political campaigns; politicians; members of Congress; lobbyists; and the FEC.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1308

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Mark Takano (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to limit how long former political candidates can hold on to campaign funds, and to give them the option to return the money to donors, donate it to charity, or transfer to another candidate (all of which are permissible uses under current election law):

“Americans make financial contributions to a candidate of their choice with the expectation that those funds will be put to good use by the candidate’s campaign. The Let It Go Act will help uphold that intention by ensuring that the hard-earned dollars Americans donate to campaigns every cycle are not being wasted by a candidate long after their campaign is over. And it will help restore trust that these funds are being used responsibly and not for personal gain.”

In an article on Medium, Rep. Takano argued that donations to political campaigns are just that — donations for the purpose of getting a candidate elected — and shouldn’t be used for any other purposes:

“When we donate to candidates we give them both our money and our trust. Finding voices that represent us is empowering and it compels us to support the causes and candidates that motivate and inspire us. Of course, we understand that our candidate may lose — that is the democratic process at work. But what many donors do not know, and would likely not accept, is candidates sometimes keep our donations and spend them on causes for which they were never intended, or do not use them at all.”

Larry Noble, senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, says that campaigns holding on to funds indefinitely is a “serious issue”:

“It’s a serious issue, because the use of your campaign funds for personal use has been prosecuted by the Department of Justice as a criminal violation. Not only is it a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, if you’re using your campaign funds to support yourself, and you’re not paying income taxes on that, you’ve also violated the Internal Revenue Code… If you’re not going to [return the money], then you should, in a fair amount of time, dispose of that money by giving it to a charity or transferring it to the party committee or making political contributions within the limits if that’s what you want.”

This bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), in the 116th Congress. Rep. Takano first introduced this bill in the 114th Congress, where it had one cosponsor, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), and didn’t receive a committee vote. In the 115th Congress, Rep. Takano introduced this bill with the support of three bipartisan cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican, and it also didn’t receive a committee vote.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) has introduced a similar bill to this, the Honest Elections and Campaign, No Gain Act. However, Rep. Castor’s bill would only give former politicians two years to wind down their campaign funds (versus the six years that this bill would allow).


Of NoteOpenSecrets reports that 42 members of Congress who either resigned or retired before the 2018 midterm elections had a combined outstanding balance of $50 million in campaign funds. In theory, these funds can’t be used for personal expenses or purchases unrelated to a member’s candidacy or time in office. However, abuse of the system is rampant. The Tampa Bay Times reports that former lawmakers have used their leftover campaign funds to buy college football season tickets or pay family members thousands of dollars — all without being formally investigated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Currently, outgoing lawmakers have little incentive to shut their campaigns down in a timely manner, as the FEC allows campaign committees to keep running indefinitely after members leave office. Noble notes that this is for good reason: “The theory behind it is that if they decide to run again, they can convert their campaign into a new campaign committee and just roll over the money.” However, this can be exploited. For example, after Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) passed away, his committee remained active for over a year after his death, paying political advisor Dylan Beeley’s firm over $100,000 for “consulting services” after Rep. Takai’s death.

In 2013, the FEC issued an advisory opinion in which it recommended that outgoing politicians should wind down campaign expenses within six months.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / NoDerog)

AKA

Let It Go Act

Official Title

To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide for a limitation on the time for the use of contributions or donations, and for other purposes.

    Yes, but I do not understand waiting six years. I would think it would be done immediately, or by the end of the first year.
    Like (144)
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    Six years is far too long. These accounts should be locked down within one month after the election, accounts audited, and funds fully disbursed within six months following the election. No rollovers, no access, disbursements only in the form of returns to donors or donations to charity with donor’s consent.
    Like (95)
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    Actually I think they should have to disburse funds immediately but that would be almost impossible for these ConMan to give up their money so quickly
    Like (69)
    Follow
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    I support this bipartisan bill. I only question why it gives former candidates 6 years. It would be much more acceptable if creditors were to be paid within a year and allowing so long does increase the likelihood that the funds will be misused for personal expenses untaxed.
    Like (62)
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    6 years ? H**l No ! Immediately ! This is the #1 reason politicians run. To build a slush fund for them to live extravagantly and continue to be an interference in politics.
    Like (49)
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    They should have this sorted out before they leave office, so immediately.
    Like (34)
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    Six YEARS?!???? Try 6 weeks or 6 months at MAX.
    Like (32)
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    These left over funds once the campaign bills are paid should be applied against the national deficit. Then it is coming back to taxpayers.
    Like (29)
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    Six years is insane. It should instantly go towards the national debt.
    Like (27)
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    Campaign funds should be delt with the same as 501(c) funds. The money should be given to a pre-stated not-for-profit organization. They shouldn’t wait six years though, it should be at the end of their current campaign.
    Like (26)
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    Absolutely. I support this - campaign donations accounts must be closed out in six years (or less). The money donated to a campaign should be accounted for - and six years is plenty of time ....I actually would like to see this shortened to two years. Don’t leave this money hanging around. !!!!!!!!
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    It should be disbursed within 6 months.
    Like (13)
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    It should go into the social security fund.
    Like (13)
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    I agree that a time limit needs to be in place but if they have not been able to find a place for it in 6 years put it towards the national debt.
    Like (12)
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    6 years is absolutely ridiculous..... 6 months Max. And if your caught not complying, your fined 5,000 a day until you comply!!
    Like (11)
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    How about within ONE year instead? It’s not YOUR money, assholes.
    Like (10)
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    All their campaign money should go into the country’s coffers. That money is NOT THEIRS. IT SHOULD GO BACK TO THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE IT OR INTO THE TREASURY.
    Like (9)
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    👍🏻👍🏻 House BILL H.R. 1308 AKA the “Let It Go Act” 👍🏻👍🏻 I support and recommend the passage of House BILL H.R. 1308 AKA the “Let It Go Act “ AKA which would require that campaign donations be disbursed out from a candidate’s campaign coffers within six years after the end of a candidate’s campaign or tenure in office. This would entail first paying any debts or obligations owed by the campaign, and then choosing between one or more of three options: 1) returning donations to donors, 2) donating the money to a charity, or 3) sending the funds to another national committee. I’ve two objections to the 6 year stipulation of returning the funds as the time frame allows the former candidate can have the funds to use and often strangely seeing the funds vanish. I’d recommend shortening the time to return or whatever to 1 year. Political donations are made for the express purpose of helping a specific candidate get elected. When a politician loses their race or leaves public office, any remaining donations should be returned to donors, distributed to other candidates, or donated to charity (per existing allowable uses) — and this should happen within a reasonable period of time. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻HR-1308👍🏻👍🏻. 5*3*19....
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    If you’re not a politician anymore why do you need all that campaign cash? Either you’re running for office or you’re not! That money should be returned to donors! However, in the long term, we need to reduce the effect of money on political campaigns through public financing. Our current campaign finance system is completely absurd!
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    I support the principle but I question the length of time. 6 years is a rather extended period. I understand this would take time but that length seems excessive.
    Like (7)
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