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April 02, 2014

In Response to McCutcheon, King Introduces Legislation to Improve Transparency of Campaign Donations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which abolished caps on an individual’s total donations to federal candidates, parties and some political committees, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) introduced legislation that would give Americans the information they need to know about who is really funding the candidates on their ballot. The Real Time Transparency Act of 2014 would require that all contributions of $1000 or more be filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 48-hours.

“The American people deserve to know who is funding political activity – and they deserve to know in real-time, not months down the road,” Senator King said. “The Supreme Court’s decision will open the floodgates and make it even more difficult to track who’s funding elections. This bill will modernize antiquated disclosure requirements to reflect the realities of today’s political campaigns, helping to combat the impact of unchecked money in our political system and giving people the knowledge they need to make the more informed decisions at the ballot box.”

Under current law, a contribution of $1000 or more to a U.S. Senate campaign must be filed with the Secretary of Senate on a quarterly basis, and all other political action committee or campaign contributions of $1000 or more must be filed with the FEC on a quarterly basis. Currently, only contributions made within 20 days preceding the election must be disclosed within 48-hours.

Specifically, the bill would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to:

  • Require all candidates for federal office, including those for the U.S. Senate, to report contributions to the FEC within 48-hours. Candidates for the U.S. Senate are currently only required to report contributions to the Secretary of the Senate.
  • Apply reporting requirements for transfers from Joint Fundraising Committees to candidates as well as for contributions from individuals directly to candidates
  • Modify the $1000 threshold to make it cumulative within one calendar year, mandating that any individual who contributes $1000 or more multiple times per year report each contribution
  • Require a “loop back” to a year before the date of enactment, meaning if an individual makes a contribution of $1000 or more, the candidate must report within 48 hours

In the case of McCutcheon v. FEC before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court ruled today that political contributions are an expression of speech protected under the First Amendment, and therefore, the biennial aggregate limit for contributions imposed by Section 441 of the Federal Election Campaign Act is unconstitutional.

U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX-16) intends to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.


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