This bill — the Empowering Citizens Act — would make changes to the way that public funding (taxpayer dollars) is given to presidential campaigns and candidates in general elections. The bill would also establish a system of public financing for congressional elections. All changes, if this bill passes, would start after January 1, 2016.
- Matching (one-to-one) the first $250 (or less) of each individual contribution that an eligible Presidential candidate receives during the primary campaign;
- Financing major national party nominating conventions and some eligible minor parties' conventions;
- Funding general election campaigns for major (and eligible minor) party nominees.
This bill would increase matched funds to six-to-one for primaries. The amount of aggregate individual contributions would be set at $1,000, and the total amount of payments that could be made to a presidential primary candidate would be capped at $300 million. These totals would be adjusted for inflation beginning after 2015.
New requirements for presidential candidates who choose to use the public financing system would increase the donation thresholds that candidates must raise from $5,000 in each of 20 states, to $25,000 in each state with contribution limits of $250 per candidate. These candidates would also have to commit to accept public financing in both the primary and general elections.
Presidential primary candidates would be prohibited from accepting contributions or bundled contributions (a bunch of small contributions rolled into one) from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).
The tax check-off for contributions to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund would be increased from $3 to $20. It does not increase a person’s tax bill or decrease their refund.