Groups Urge House Members to Oppose Campaign Finance Riders in House Financial Services Appropriations Bill

In a letter sent to House members, more than 20 organizations called on the Representatives to oppose four campaign finance riders attached to the House Financial Services Appropriations bill, scheduled to be considered today, September 7, 2017. (See below for a full list of groups signing the letter.)

Two of the four riders “prevent the IRS from implementing new regulations to govern the campaign activities of section 501(c)(4) organizations, and to prevent the SEC from implementing regulations to require public corporations to disclose their campaign activities to shareholders,” according to shareholders.

These two riders have been previously enacted as riders to appropriations bills and are again incorporated in this year’s House Financial Services appropriations bill. According to the letter:

The IRS and SEC campaign finance riders currently in the law would serve to keep the American people in the dark about secret money that has been poured into federal elections. Secret campaign contributions prevent citizens from holding officeholders and big donors accountable for any corrupt practices that occur. These two riders should be rejected and not included in any appropriations measure that is enacted into law.

A third rider “would gut the prohibition on Section 501(c)(3) campaign activity, also known as the Johnson amendment” and “has widespread opposition.”

According to the letter from the groups:

A letter signed by more than 5,500 charitable nonprofits, religious organizations, and foundations strongly opposed any proposals to eliminate or weaken this longstanding provision of the tax code that prohibits Section 501(c)(3) charitable and religious organizations from intervening in campaigns. […]

In addition, more than four thousand faith leaders representing every major religion have signed a letter strongly opposing attempts to repeal, amend, or otherwise tamper with the longstanding protections in the Johnson amendment.

The aforementioned rider in the Financial Services appropriation bill is a backdoor effort to get rid of the Johnson Amendment without allowing House members to vote on this important question. The rider should be removed from the Financial Services appropriations bill and should not be included in any appropriations bill enacted into law.

A fourth rider “would eliminate the requirement that business trade associations obtain permission from a member corporation to solicit the corporation’s executive and administrative personnel for contributions,” and “the prohibition on a corporation giving approval to more than one business trade association to solicit its executive and administrative personnel.” according to the letter.  “This provision provides protections to a corporation’s personnel, preventing them from being flooded with solicitations for contributions from multiple business associations,” the letter said.

The letter concluded:

Any effort to rewrite the nation’s campaign finance laws or to restrict related campaign finance measures should be done by regular order and through the legislative process. This should not be done through a back-door misuse of the appropriations process.

We strongly urge you to support the removal of the campaign finance riders from the Financial Services appropriations bill and to oppose the campaign finance riders from being included in any appropriations bill enacted into law.

 

Signers to the letter include:

Democracy 21

Public Citizen

American Atheists, Inc.

Brennan Center for Justice

Campaign for Accountability

Campaign Legal Center

Center for Biological Diversity

Common Cause

CREW

Demand Progress

Demos

End Citizens United

Every Voice

Issue One

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

League of Women Voters

Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011

People For the American Way

Represent.Us

Secular Coalition for America

Unitarian Universalist Association

U.S. PIRG

Voices for Progress

 

To read the full letter to Representatives: click here.