March 08, 2019

Kilmer Campaign Finance & Election Reform Bills Included in Final H.R. 1 Legislation

For the People Act Passes House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.— Today, the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, a sweeping package of reform bills aimed at strengthening the voice of the American people in their democracy by making it easier to vote, ending the dominance of big money in the political process, and ensuring public officials work for the public interest. This comprehensive reform package includes two bipartisan bills led by Representative Kilmer, The Honest Ads Act and the Resorting Integrity to America’s Election Act, which aim to increase transparency in our campaign finance and election laws.  

“For a long time, folks have been justifiably frustrated with the performance of the government. There’s been too much money, too many special interests, and too little accountability. Today, Congress finally took a step forward in hopes of ensuring that government works better for the American people,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA). “Reducing the role of big money in politics, strengthening ethics rules so elected officials are working for the public interest, and protecting voting rights for every American, are things everyone should agree on. I’m also proud this bill includes two bipartisan proposals I wrote – provisions that increase transparency in elections and crack down on politicians that cheat.”

 Included in H.R. 1 is The Honest Ads Act, which would shine a light on the murky world of online political advertising by requiring the hosts of online ads to disclose who paid for them. These requirements are the same as what is already required on television and radio. The bill had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate when it was introduced in the 115th Congress. Kilmer wrote about the need for the bill’s passage in an op-ed in The Seattle Times.

 H.R. 1 also includes the Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act, bipartisan legislation which reforms the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the government entity responsible for policing the nation’s election laws. The legislation would enable the FEC to more effectively carry out its mission to oversee and enforce campaign finance laws. Among other things, the bill will reduce the number of FEC commissioners from 6 to 5, so there are no longer split decisions among commissioners.

 Additional highlights of H.R. 1 include:

  • Enables same day voter registration – requires states to permit eligible citizens to register to vote and cast ballots on the day of a federal election, including during early voting periods.
  • Reaffirms commitment to restoring Voting Rights Act – declares that Congress finds the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder ushered in a new era of voter suppression and that, per the ruling, Congress should restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act by updating the formula for determining which jurisdictions are subject to federal preclearance.
  • Promotes voter access – makes colleges and universities voter registration agencies, requires absentee ballots be posted free of charge, and creates a voter information hotline.
  • Ends partisan gerrymandering – requires states to adopt independent redistricting commissions for the purposes of drawing Congressional districts instead of allowing politicians to pick their voters.
  • Unmasks dark money – requires super PACs, 501(c)4 groups and other organizations spending money in elections to disclose donors who contribute more than $10,000 and forbids organizations to transfer money to keep the identity of the contributor secret.
  • Supports ending Citizens United affirms that the Constitution should be amended to clarify Congress and the States have the authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures, nullifying the Citizens United decision.
  • Prevents Presidential conflicts of interest – requires the President and Vice President to file a new financial disclosure statement within 30 days of being sworn into office and prohibits both the President and Vice President from contracting with the U.S. government.  Also, requires sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents, as well as candidates for President and Vice President, to make their tax returns public.
  • Limiting congressional conflicts of interest – forbids Members of Congress from serving on for-profit, corporate boards and codifies rules prohibiting Members, their family and staff from using their official position to benefit their own financial interests.