Campaign Finance Reform
The current campaign finance system in this country is broken and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has harmed the integrity of our democracy. More and more money is secret and subject to abuse by organizations, donors and the government itself. As a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I’m working to overturn the Citizens United decision, help eliminate “dark money” in politics and increase transparency by ensuring that the public is aware of the source of campaign spending.
That’s why I introduced the 501(c)(4) Reform Act of 2013, legislation which would prohibit tax-exempt social welfare organizations, known as 501(c)(4)s, from engaging in political campaign activity. Originally, Congress created tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations to “operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” A 1959 IRS regulation and the Citizens United ruling, however, allowed groups to gain tax exempt status if they merely “primarily engaged” in promoting social welfare.
This clear misinterpretation of federal law has had disastrous consequences, allowing 501(c)(4)s to spend up to 49 percent of their total expenditures on political campaign activities while hiding their donors. In the 2012 presidential campaign, 501(c)(4)s—across the political spectrum—spent hundreds of millions of dollars of “dark money” on campaign activities.
Under the 501(c)(4) Reform Act, exclusively would mean exclusively, and money used for campaign purposes would be disclosed and kept separate from money used for the promotion of social welfare. I will continue to push for eliminating the harmful impacts of the Citizens United decision and ensuring that our elections are transparent and fair.