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July 31, 2018

King, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Increase Transparency in Elections

Senators’ Spotlight Act Will Overturn Rule to Shed More Light on Major Campaign Contributors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, announced his support for the Spotlight Act, a bill that would reverse the Treasury Department’s decision that allows non-profit organizations that engage in political activity to avoid disclosing certain donor information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In addition to requiring the organizations to disclose these names to the IRS, the Spotlight Act would also require them to disclose the names of these donors to the public.

“In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln spoke about the importance of defending ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ Nowhere in his accurate articulation of American values did Lincoln defend the role of secretive special interest groups looking to further their own agendas,” said Senator King. “Elections are the foundation of our democracy, and there is nothing more American than working to ensure that no vote is worth more than another. Americans have the right to have a fair say in the future of their communities and their country, and Congress should act to bring dark money into the light so citizens have the information they need when they head to the polls.”

Under current law, 501(c)(3) organizations are required to provide donor information to the IRS; however, the Treasury Secretary has discretion about whether to require donor information for the other types of tax-exempt organizations. The Spotlight Act will specifically require three classes of nonprofit organizations (501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6)) to disclose publicly and to the IRS the names and information of donors who contribute more than $5,000.

Senator King has been a long-time advocate for election transparency as a means of increasing voter trust and engagement in our electoral process. Last September, Senator King announced his support for a series of campaign finance bills called the We the People Democracy Reform Act of 2017. This bicameral legislation proposes a series of wide-ranging electoral reforms to restore integrity, accountability, and transparency to our broken political system. The legislation includes proposals to comprehensively reform campaign finance laws, increase transparency and accountability in the political system, end gerrymandering, increase voter participation, and strengthen lobbying and revolving door laws. In June 2016, Senator King joined with a group of his colleagues to announce a new legislative package aimed at reforming America’s campaign finance system and making government more accountable to the people. The package includes a bill authored by Senator King that would require real-time transparency in federal elections as well as legislation that would amend the Constitution to end unlimited campaign contributions and provisions that would reform the lobbying laws to limit special interest influence on elected officials.

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