Statement of Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer

Democracy 21 thanks and commends President Obama, House Democratic Leader Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Reid, and other Democratic members of Congress who worked on this, for their successful efforts to keep three very damaging campaign finance riders out of the final Omnibus spending bill.

We also join with many other reform groups in expressing our deep disappointment that two very damaging campaign finance riders did end up in the final Omnibus bill.

The legislative process just completed is an irresponsible and indefensible way to govern the country. The blatant misuse of riders to try to jam dozens of policy decisions into law without serious consideration or regular order is an undemocratic and highly destructive way for Congress to function. The abusive use of riders on appropriations bills must be brought to an end.

The riders successfully blocked from the final Omnibus bill included a McConnell rider to remove the limits on spending by political parties in coordination with their candidates and a rider that would have prevented President Obama from issuing an Executive Order to require government contractors to disclose their campaign finance activities.

The blocked riders also included a last minute effort by Republicans to add a rider to the bill to eliminate the presidential public financing system from the law, even though there was no such rider in either the House or Senate appropriations bills.

The currently broken presidential public financing system needs to be repaired, not destroyed. Keeping the structure of the presidential public financing system in the law is very important to ongoing efforts to revise and restore the system.

The damaging campaign finance riders incorporated into the final Omnibus bill include a rider that will prevent the IRS from issuing new regulations to govern the campaign activities of 501(c)(4) groups. Such regulations, which are under consideration by the agency, could have addressed the current problem of 501(c)(4) groups engaging in far more campaign activity than the law allows in order to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in secret contributions into federal elections.

The second rider will prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing new regulations to require corporations to disclose their campaign finance activities.

With these two Omnibus riders, it is now critically important that Obama issue an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their campaign finance. It is the only way to get new disclosure requirements for dark money in time for the 2016 national elections. A proposed executive order to do this has been before the White House for many months.

The American people overwhelmingly object to the current campaign finance system. The unprecedented and dangerous role being played by the Super Rich in financing the 2016 presidential race makes a powerful case for fixing the presidential public financing system.

Legislation introduced by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) would empower millions of ordinary Americans to counter big money in presidential elections by establishing a system that matches small contributions to presidential candidates with multiple public matching funds.