Democracy 21 released a Model Bill today that would establish rules to shut down individual-candidate Super PACs and to prevent coordination between outside spending groups and candidates they support. The Model Bill was prepared for use at the state and local levels.

The proposals in the Model Bill were developed by Democracy 21 and were originally incorporated into the comprehensive Empowering Citizens Act (H.R. 6448) introduced in 2012 by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

The Act, which also contains provisions to repair the presidential public financing system and to create a public matching funds system for congressional races, was reintroduced 2013 (H.R. 270) and again in January 2015 (H.R. 430).

In January 2015, Representatives Price and Van Hollen also introduced the Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act (H.R.425), which contains only the Super PAC and coordination provisions of the Empowering Citizens Act. The provisions in the Democracy 21 model bill are virtually the same as the provisions in H.R.425.

According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:

The Democracy 21 Model Bill addresses two major and growing campaign finance problems. The bill would end the use of individual-candidate Super PACs to circumvent candidate contribution limits. It would also prevent coordination between candidates and outside groups whose expenditures are supposed to be “independent.”

The Model Bill restores the integrity of candidate contribution limits by defining coordination to include the factors that establish the close relationships and ties between a candidate and an individual-candidate Super PAC and that make the Super PAC for all practical purposes an operating arm of the candidate’s campaign.

Once such coordination between a candidate and a Super PAC is established, the Super PAC is treated as a “coordinated spender” for that candidate. As a “coordinated spender,” all future expenditures by the Super PAC are treated as both coordinated expenditures and in-kind contributions to the candidate subject to candidate contribution limits.

The Model Bill also establishes a new general definition of coordination between a candidate and any outside spending group. This new definition uses the broad standards set forth by the Supreme Court to determine what constitutes “independent spending.”

Past editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post have praised the individual-candidate Super PAC provisions contained in the federal bills introduced by Representatives Price and Van Hollen and now contained in the Model Bill.

Washington Post editorial following the 2102 elections said these provisions would “eliminate the candidate-specific super PACs, such as Mitt Romney’s Restore our Future and President Obama’s Priorities USA, that did the most to shred the fiction of independent expenditures.”

New York Times editorial in 2014 described individual-candidate Super PACs as “a form of legalized bribery” and “a truly toxic force in American politics,” and said the provisions represent “the best chance for ridding politics of special-interest cash and preventing another era of scandal.”

To read the Model Bill, click here.

To read a Summary of the Model Bill, click here.

For further information about the Model Bill, contact Democracy 21 at info@democracy21.org.

 

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