There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (01/21/1997)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Control of Congressional Campaign Spending

Subtitle A: Senate Election Campaign Expenditure Limits

and Benefits

Subtitle B: General Provisions

Title II: Independent Expenditures

Title III: Expenditures

Subtitle A: Personal Funds; Credit

Subtitle B: Provisions Relating to Soft Money of

Political Parties

Title IV: Contributions

Title V: Reporting Requirements

Title VI: Federal Election Commission

Title VII: Miscellaneous

Title VIII: Effective Dates; Authorizations

Senate Campaign Financing and Spending Reform Act - Makes findings and declarations of the Senate.

Title I: Control of Congressional Campaign Spending - Subtitle A: Senate Election Campaign Expenditure Limits and Benefits - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to add a new title, Title V: Expenditure Limits and Benefits for Senate Campaign Elections. Makes a Senate candidate eligible for FECA benefits if the candidate: (1) files a primary election eligibility certification and declaration; and (2) files a general election eligibility certification and declaration. Limits Senate primary expenditures for a candidate (or his or her authorized committees) to: (1) 67 percent of the general election expenditure limit; or (2) $2.75 million. Limits runoff expenditures.

Sets a threshold contribution amount which triggers application of such primary and runoff limits.

Limits the total amount of out-of-State contributions accepted by the candidate and the candidate's authorized committees. Provides for personal or family funds to be treated as out-of-State contributions.

Limits the use by a Senate candidate (or authorized committees), during an election cycle, of the candidate's personal (or a member of the candidate's immediate family) funds or proceeds of indebtedness by the candidate (or a member of the candidate's immediate family).

Limits aggregate general election expenditures by an eligible Senate candidate (or authorized committees) to the lesser of: (1) $5.5 million; or (2) the greater of $950,000, or $400,000 plus 30 cents times the voting age population up to 4 million and 25 cents times the voting age population over 4 million.

Exempts from the general election expenditure limit expenditures for Federal, State, or local income taxes on the earnings of a candidate's authorized committees.

Permits an eligible Senate candidate notified by the Commission that independent expenditures totaling $10,000 or more have been made in the same election favoring another candidate or against the eligible candidate, to spend an amount equal to the amount of the independent expenditures, and any such expenditures shall not be subject to certain limits applicable to the eligible candidate for the election.

Entitles eligible Senate candidates to certain broadcast media rates, mailing rates, public financing payments, and in certain circumstances, payments compensating for independent expenditures and excess expenditures (if any) on behalf of the candidate's opponent.

Requires that the Commission shall issue a certification of eligibility to receive FECA benefits within seven business days after an eligible Senate candidate files a request with the Secretary of the Senate to receive the benefits.

Requires the Commission to examine and audit, for FECA compliance, the campaign accounts of ten percent of all Senate candidates in which there was an eligible Senate candidate on the ballot, and the campaign accounts of all opponents of such candidates as well. Requires candidates to refund to the Commission any excess payments or expenditures or misused benefits. Sets civil penalties for excess expenditures and contributions. Requires deposit of all such amounts into the Senate Election Campaign Fund (established by this Act).

Provides for judicial review of Commission actions and requires Commission reports to the Senate.

Establishes in the Treasury the Senate Election Campaign Fund, for payments to eligible Senate candidates. Provides for reductions in payments in the event of insufficient funds, and compensatory increases in contribution limits.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit a taxpayer to designate an additional amount of five dollars (ten for a joint return) for the Senate Election Campaign Fund.

(Sec. 102) Amends FECA to reduce from $5,000 to $1,000 the maximum aggregate contributions of any PAC to a candidate (or authorized committees).

Makes it unlawful for aggregate PACs to contribute to any Senate candidate (or authorized committees) more than the lesser of: (1) $825,000; or (2) 20 percent of the primary election expenditure limit, runoff election expenditure limit, or general election expenditure limit. Requires annual adjustments of such dollar amounts according to a specified price index.

Reduces from $5,000 to $1,000 the maximum aggregate contribution of any PAC to a political committee.

(Sec. 103) Sets forth reporting requirements for Senate candidates not eligible for FECA benefits. Requires a report to the Secretary of the Senate within 24 hours after aggregate contributions have been received or aggregate expenditures have been made or obligated to be made (or, if later, within 24 hours after the qualification date for the general election ballot) that exceeds 75 percent of the general election expenditure limit.

Allows the Commission to make its own determination of whether an ineligible candidate in a general election has raised aggregate contributions, or made or has obligated to make aggregate expenditures in amounts that would require a report.

Requires any candidate for the Senate who, during an election cycle, expends more than the personal funds expenditure limit to report to the Secretary of the Senate within 24 hours after expenditures have been made or loans incurred in excess of the personal funds expenditure limit.

Requires certain expenditure reports from any Senate candidate who held Federal, State, or local office or was a candidate for any such office during the same election cycle, and made any expenditures, before becoming a Senate candidate, which would have been treated as Senate candidate expenditures.

(Sec. 104) Requires Senate candidates ineligible for FECA benefits to place on every paid or authorized political commercial or communication the declaration: "This candidate has not agreed to voluntary campaign spending limits."

Subtitle B: General Provisions - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require a broadcast station to make broadcast time available to all House and Senate candidates in the last 30 (currently 45) days before a primary and the last 45 (currently 60) days before a general election, at the lowest unit charge of the station for the same amount of time (currently, the same class and amount of time) for the same period on the same date. Limits the rates for the use of a television station by an eligible Senate candidate for the 45 days before a general election to 50 percent of the lowest unit rate.

Prohibits broadcasters from preempting advertisements sold to political candidates at the lowest unit rate, unless the preemption is beyond the broadcaster's control.

(Sec. 132) Amends Federal law to permit eligible Senate candidates to mail up to one piece per eligible voter (voting age population) at the lowest third-class non-profit postage rate, during a general election period only.

(Sec. 133) Amends FECA to revise requirements regarding the publication and distribution of statements and solicitations, including applying the requirements to political committees (currently applies to any person). Requires the following for campaign advertisements: (1) that printed advertisements be of a clearly readable type, be contained in a printed box set apart from the contents of the communication, and consist of color contrasts; (2) that radio and television advertisements include an audio statement that identifies the candidate and states that the candidate has approved the advertisement; and (3) that televised advertisements include a specified written statement appearing at the end of the communication in a clearly readable type with color contrasts, for a duration of at least four seconds, and accompanied by a clearly identifiable image of the candidate; and (4) that radio and television advertisements not paid for or authorized by the candidate include a clearly spoken message of content responsibility.

(Sec. 135) Amends Federal law to prohibit a Senator who is a candidate for election to any public office from making a mass mailing under the frank during the calendar year of any primary or general election for such office. Restricts mass mailings of a Member of the House to the Member's district.

Title II: Independent Expenditures - Amends FECA to define "independent expenditure" as an expenditure for an advertisement or other communication that: (1) contains express advocacy; and (2) is made without the participation or cooperation of a candidate or a candidate's representative. Excludes from the meaning of "independent expenditure" any expenditure by: (1) an authorized committee of the candidate; or (2) a political committee of a political party; and (3) persons with other specified relationships with a candidate or candidate's agents in the same election cycle.

Defines "express advocacy" as a communication that is taken as a whole and with limited reference to external events, makes an expression of support for or opposition to a specific candidate, a specific group of candidates, or candidates of a particular political party. States that the term "expression for or opposition to" includes a suggestion to take action with respect to an election, such as to vote for or against, make contributions to, or participate in campaign activity, or to refrain from taking action. Excludes from the definition of express advocacy the publication and distribution of a communication that is limited to providing information about votes by elected officials on legislative matters and that does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.

(Sec. 202) Sets forth reporting requirements for certain independent expenditures. Requires that reports shall be filed with the Commission. Directs the Commission, under specified circumstances, to notify an eligible Senate candidate of an allowable increase in such candidate's applicable independent expenditure limit.

Title III: Expenditures - Subtitle A: Personal Funds; Credit - Amends FECA to prohibit the use of contributions received after the date of a general election to repay a loan to a candidate (or authorized committee) by the candidate or by a member of the candidate's immediate family.

(Sec. 302) Treats as a contribution any extension of credit for goods and services relating to general public political advertising of more than $1,000 for more than 60 days to candidates for Federal office (or authorized committees).

Subtitle B: Provisions Relating to Soft Money of Political Parties - Amends FECA to prohibit a national committee of a political party and the congressional committees of a political party (including a national congressional campaign committee of a political party, an entity that is established, maintained, or controlled by the national committee, a national congressional campaign committee of a political party, and an officer or agent of any such party or entity but not including an entity regulated by a State, district, or local committee) from soliciting or accepting any amount or spending any funds or soliciting or accepting a transfer from another political committee not subject to certain limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements.

Requires that any amount that is expended or disbursed by a State, district, or local committee of a political party (including an entity that is established, maintained, or controlled by a State, district, or local committee of a political party and an agent or officer of any such committee or entity) during a calendar year in which a Federal election is held, for any activity that might affect the outcome of a Federal election, including any voter registration or get-out-the-vote activity, any generic campaign activity, and any communication that identifies a candidate (regardless of whether a candidate for State or local office is also mentioned or identified) shall be made from funds subject to certain limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements.

Requires that any amount spent by a national, State, district, or local committee, by an entity that is established, maintained, or controlled by a State, district, or local committee of a political party, or by an agent, or officer of any such committee or entity to raise funds that are used, in whole or in part, in connection with specified activities, shall be made from funds subject to certain limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements.

Prohibits a national, State, district, or local committee of a political party from soliciting any funds for or making any donations to an organization that is exempt from Federal taxation under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Prohibits a candidate, Federal officeholder, or agent of a candidate or individual holding Federal office from soliciting or receiving funds: (1) in connection with an election for Federal office unless the funds are subject to certain limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements; or (2) that are to be expended in connection with any election other than a Federal election unless the funds are not in excess of the amounts permitted with respect to contributions to candidates and political committees and are not from sources prohibited by FECA from making contributions with respect to an election for Federal office. Excepts the solicitation or receipt of funds by an individual who is a candidate for a State or local office if the solicitation or receipt of funds is permitted under State law for the individual's State or local campaign committee.

(Sec. 312) Requires the national committee of a political party and any congressional campaign committee (and any subordinate committee) to report all receipts and expenditures during the reporting period whether or not in connection with an election for Federal office. Requires that a political committee shall include in the report the amount of any specified transfer and itemize those amounts to the extent required. Includes in such requirement: (1) itemization of annual receipts or expenditures by any person in excess of $200; and (2) reporting of exempt contributions.

Title IV: Contributions - Revises requirements regarding the treatment of contributions made by a person through intermediaries. Treats contributions that a bundler delivers to a candidate, the candidate's agent, or the candidate's authorized committee as contributions from the bundler to the candidate as well as from the original contributor. Defines the terms "bundler" and "deliver." Excepts specified activities.

Prohibits certain contributions made or solicited by lobbyists.

(Sec. 402) Treats contributions by a dependent not of voting age as having been made by the individual on whom that dependent is a dependent.

(Sec. 403) Prohibits a candidate for Federal office from accepting, with respect to any election, any contribution from a State or local political party committee (or subordinate committee) if the contribution, when added to the total of contributions previously accepted from all such committees of that political party, would cause the total amount of contributions to exceed the relevant contribution limitation.

(Sec. 404) Excludes from the meaning of "contribution" any campaign expense voluntarily paid for by a campaign worker as an advance to the campaign, provided the amount does not exceed $500 and is reimbursed by the committee within ten days.

Title V: Reporting Requirements - Changes certain reporting from a calendar year basis to an election cycle basis.

Requires disclosing the name and address of each person who received over $200 dollars for a candidate or committee operating expense from a consultant who had received, from a reporting committee, over $200 for such an expense.

(Sec. 504) Requires the Commission to maintain computerized indices of all contributions of at least $50.

Title VI: Federal Election Commission - Prohibits a political committee that is not an authorized committee from including the name of any candidate in its name or use of the name on behalf of such committee in such a context as to suggest that the committee is an authorized committee of the candidate or that the use of the candidate's name has been authorized by the candidate.

(Sec. 603) Requires that in the event of a vacancy in the office of general counsel, the next highest ranking enforcement official in the general counsel's office shall serve as acting general counsel with full powers of the general counsel until a successor is appointed. Revises the requirement regarding the pay of the general counsel to require that the general counsel shall be paid at the same basic rate of pay as the staff director.

(Sec. 605) Authorizes the Commission to conduct random audits and investigations of political committees to ensure voluntary compliance.

(Sec. 606) Prohibits the solicitation of contributions by falsely representing oneself as a candidate or as a representative of a candidate, a political committee, or a political party.

(Sec. 607) Directs the Commission to promulgate regulations to prohibit devices or arrangements which have the purpose or effect of undermining or evading provisions of FECA restricting the use of non-Federal money to affect Federal elections.

(Sec. 608) Authorizes the Commission to issue regulations to require the filing of designations, statements, and reports using computers if the person has, or has reason to expect to have, aggregate contributions or expenditures in excess of a threshold amount determined by the Commission. Requires the Commission to prescribe regulations allowing persons to file designations, statements, and reports using facsimile machines.

Title VII: Miscellaneous - Prohibits Federal candidates and officeholders from establishing, maintaining, or controlling any political committee (such as a "leadership committee") or non-Federal political committee other than a principal campaign committee of the candidate, authorized committee, party committee, or other political committee designated as an authorized committee.

(Sec. 702) Requires that contributions of polling data to Federal candidates shall be valued at fair market value on the date of the poll's completion, depreciated at a specified rate.

(Sec. 703) Sets forth a requirement restricting the use of campaign funds for personal purposes.

Title VIII: Effective Dates; Authorizations - Sets forth the general effective date of this Act.

(Sec. 803) Provides for direct, expedited appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court from any court rulings on the constitutionality of any provision of this Act or amendment made by it.