Summary: H.R.417 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (09/14/1999)

Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 1999 - Title I: Reduction of Special Interest Influence - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) with respect to soft money to prohibit a national committee of a political party (including a national congressional campaign committee of a political party, and any officers or agents of such party committees, and specified related entities) from soliciting, receiving, or directing to another person a contribution, donation, or transfer of funds, or from spending any funds not subject to the FECA limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements (FECA requirements).

(Sec. 101) Requires State, district, or local committees of political parties (including specified related entities) to make expenditures and disbursements for Federal election activities (with exceptions) from funds subject to FECA requirements which are applied to any amounts spent for fund raising costs of such activities by national, State, district, or local committees and specified related entities.

Prohibits national, State, district, or local committees (including national congressional campaign committees and specified related entities) from soliciting funds for, or making or directing donations to, tax-exempt organizations or organization applicants for tax-exemption status.

Disallows candidates, incumbents, or their agents, or specified related entities, from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending funds in connection with an election for Federal office as well as in connection with any election other than for Federal office or disbursing funds in connection with such an election for Federal election activities on their behalf (with exceptions), unless, in the case of an election for Federal office, the funds are subject to FECA requirements, or, unless with regard to any election other than for Federal office, the funds meet specified guidelines, including that they are not from prohibited sources.

(Sec. 102) Prohibits any person from making contributions to a State committee in any year that exceed, in the aggregate, $10,000.

Increases the aggregate individual contribution limit from $25,000 to $30,000.

(Sec. 103) Requires the following: (1) national committees, national congressional campaign committees, and any subordinate committees, to report all receipts and disbursements during the reporting period; (2) State, district, and local committees to report all receipts and disbursements made for specified Federal election activities; and (3) political committees having receipts or disbursements from persons in excess of $200 for any year to separately itemize their reporting.

Title II: Independent and Coordinated Expenditures - Amends FECA to redefine the term "independent expenditure" to mean an expenditure by a person for a communication that is express advocacy and is not coordinated activity or is not provided in coordination with a candidate or a candidate's agent, or a person who is coordinating with a candidate or a candidate's agent. Defines the term "express advocacy."

(Sec. 201) Redefines the term "expenditure" to include a payment made by a political committee for a communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate and is for the purpose of influencing a Federal election (regardless of whether the communication is express advocacy).

(Sec. 202) Provides that in determining whether any broadcast communication constitutes express advocacy for purposes of this Act, there shall not be taken into account any background music not including lyrics.

(Sec. 203) Prohibits the Federal Election (Commission) from entering into a conciliation agreement if it determines that there is probable cause to believe that a person has made a knowing and willful violation involving the reporting of an independent expenditure. Permits the Commission, when it makes such a determination, to institute a civil action for relief.

(Sec. 204) Sets forth reporting requirements for certain independent expenditures made by persons (including political committees) aggregating: (1) $1,000 or more after the 20th day before an election; and (2) $10,000 or more up to or on the 20th day before an election. Requires additional reports to be filed each time such independent expenditures are made. Requires such reports to: (1) be filed with the Commission; and (2) contain the information required for a person who receives any disbursement in excess of $200 in connection with an independent expenditure, including the name of each candidate to whom an expenditure is intended to support or oppose.

(Sec. 205) Prohibits a committee of a political party, on or after the date on which the political party nominates a candidate, from making both coordinated and independent expenditures to the candidate during the election cycle.

Requires a political party committee, before making a coordinated expenditure to a candidate, to certify to the Commission that it has not and shall not make any independent expenditure to the candidate during the same election cycle. Prohibits a political party committee that submits a certification with respect to a candidate from transferring any funds to, assigning authority to make coordinated expenditures to, or receiving a transfer of funds from, a political committee of the party that has made or intends, during the same election cycle, to make an independent expenditure to the candidate.

(Sec. 206) Redefines the term "contribution" to include coordinated activity which is defined as anything of value provided by a person in coordination with a candidate or other specified parties, for the purpose of influencing a Federal election, regardless of whether the value being provided is a communication that is express advocacy, in which such candidate seeks nomination or election to Federal office. Considers a coordinated activity as a contribution to the candidate, and in the case of a limitation on expenditures, treats it as an expenditure by the candidate.

Redefines the term "contribution or expenditure" with respect to contributions or expenditures by national banks, corporations, and labor organizations, to include a contribution or expenditure as defined under FECA.

Title III: Disclosure - Amends FECA to replace provisions permitting the filing of reports electronically with provisions requiring the Commission to: (1) promulgate a regulation for the filing of reports using computers and faxes; (2) make electronically filed reports publicly accessible on the Internet within 24 hours after their receipt by it; and (3) provide methods (other than requiring a signature on the filing) for verifying covered reports.

(Sec. 302) Prohibits the deposit (except in escrow accounts) or negotiation of contributions from a person making aggregate contributions in excess of $200 during a year by a candidate's authorized committee unless the required contributor information is complete.

(Sec. 303) Permits the Commission to conduct random audits and investigations to ensure voluntary FECA compliance. Extends from six to 12 months the period during which campaign audits may be begun.

(Sec. 304) Revises reporting requirements for identification of other than political committee contributors to: (1) lower the $200 threshold for the reporting of contributor identification to $50; and (2) require only the names and addresses of persons who make contributions of between $50 and $200 per year.

(Sec. 305) Revises requirements for use of candidates' names.

(Sec. 306) Prohibits a person from soliciting contributions by falsely representing himself or herself to be a candidate or a representative of a candidate, a political committee, or a political party.

(Sec. 307) Requires filing of a certain statement with the Commission by persons, other than political committees of political parties and religious and apostolic organizations, that make aggregate disbursements in excess of $50,000 per year for specified Federal election activities: (1) on a monthly basis; or (2) within 24 hours, in the case of disbursements made within 20 days of an election. Exempts from such filing requirements: (1) a candidate or a candidate's authorized committees; and (2) independent expenditures.

(Sec. 308) Revises requirements for publication and distribution of any print, broadcast, or general public political advertising.

Title IV: Personal Wealth Option - Amends FECA to direct the Commission to issue a certification that a Senate or House of Representatives candidate is an eligible primary or general election congressional candidate if the candidate files with it a declaration that the candidate and the candidate's authorized committees (relevant parties) will not (in the case of a primary candidate) or did not (in the case of a general election candidate) exceed a personal funds expenditure limit of $50,000. Directs the Commission, if the limit is exceeded, to: (1) revoke the certification; and (2) require the relevant parties to pay a penalty to the Commission. Prohibits coordinated expenditures if a candidate is not an eligible congressional candidate.

Title V: Miscellaneous - Amends the National Labor Relations Act to require any labor organization receiving payments from a employee pursuant to an agreement requiring non-member employees to make such payments in lieu of organization dues or fees to establish a specified objection procedure, or be liable for an unfair labor practice (thus codifying the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers of America et al. v. Beck et al.).

(Sec. 501) Requires a labor organization, with respect to a non-member employee who files an objection under such a procedure, to reduce the employee's payments in lieu of organization dues or fees by an amount which reasonably reflects the ratio that the organization's expenditures supporting political activities unrelated to collective bargaining bear to such organization's total expenditures. Requires a reasonable explanation to the employee of such ratio and reduction.

(Sec. 502) Amends FECA to revise provisions on permitted and prohibited uses of contributed amounts by candidates and incumbents for certain purposes. Specifies prohibited kinds of conversion of such funds to personal use.

(Sec. 503) Revises Federal postal law concerning permitted time frames for mailing franked mail to prohibit any mass mailing as franked mail during the 180-day period before a general election for the office held by the Member of Congress or during the 90-day period before any primary election for that office, unless the Member has made a public announcement that the Member will not be a candidate for reelection during that year or for election to any other Federal office.

(Sec. 504) Amends the Federal criminal code to revise the prohibition against fund raising on Federal property. Prohibits an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, from soliciting a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election from any person while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by a Federal officer or employee. Imposes on violators a monetary penalty, imprisonment, or both. Excepts from the prohibition contributions received by the staff of the Executive Office of the President.

(Sec. 505) Amends FECA to double the penalties for knowing and willful violations of FECA, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act (PECFA), and the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account Act (such Acts). Permits conciliation agreements to correct or prevent such violations to include equitable remedies or penalties, disgorgement of funds to the Treasury, or community service requirements (including requirements to participate in public education programs).

Sets forth requirements for late filing of FECA reports, including requiring establishment of mandatory monetary penalties.

(Sec. 506) Revises the ban on contributions by foreign nationals, prohibiting use of "willful blindness" as a defense against a charge of violating the foreign contributions ban under FECA, by prohibiting as a defense to a violation of such ban that the defendant did not know that the contribution originated from a foreign national if the defendant should have known that the contribution originated from a foreign national, except that the trier of fact may not find that the defendant should have known that the contribution originated from a foreign national solely because of the contributor's name. Revises the definition of foreign national prohibited from making a contribution, or having a contribution accepted, in connection with an election to Federal office to specify individuals who are not citizens or nationals of the United States.

(Sec. 507) Prohibits minors (age 17 or younger) from making contributions to candidates or contributions or donations to committees of political parties.

(Sec. 508) Permits the Commission to: (1) order expedited proceedings for certain complaints; and (2) refer, at any time, to the Attorney General a possible violation of such Acts.

(Sec. 509) Revises the basis for mandatory Commission initiation of enforcement proceedings upon receipt of a complaint alleging a violation of such Acts. Replaces "has reason to believe" a violation has been or is about to be committed with "has reason to investigate whether" such a violation has been or is about to be committed.

(Sec. 510) Sets forth disclaimers to affirm equal participation of eligible voters in campaigns and elections for Federal office.

(Sec. 511) Establishes criminal penalties for violation of the prohibition against contributions by foreign nationals.

(Sec. 512) Provides for expedited court review of certain alleged FECA violations.

(Sec. 513) Amends the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to prohibit and set penalties for conspiracy to violate presidential and vice presidential campaign spending limits under PECFA or FECA.

(Sec. 514) Amends FECA to set forth guidelines for political committees to return certain illegal contributions and donations to their sources via the Commission which is required to establish a single interest-bearing escrow account for such purpose, with any contributions or donations deposited in such account allowed to cover any applicable fines or penalties imposed against the contributor or donor.

(Sec. 515) Establishes within the Commission a clearinghouse of specified public information on political activities of foreign principals and their agents. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 516) Amends IRC to prohibit presidential and vice presidential candidates from receiving amounts from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) unless the candidate certifies that the candidate will not solicit any funds (soft money) for the purposes of influencing such election, including any funds used for an independent expenditure under FECA, unless the funds are subject to FECA requirements.

Title VI: Independent Commission on Campaign Finance Reform - Establishes the Independent Commission on Campaign Finance Reform to study and report to the President, the Speaker of the House, and congressional leadership on the laws relating to the financing of political activity, and recommend any legislation to reform them.

(Sec. 606) Provides for expedited congressional consideration of any legislation implementing a recommendation of the Independent Commission, including a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution.

(Sec. 608) Authorizes appropriations.

Title VII: Prohibiting Use of White House Meals and Accommodations for Political Fundraising - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit and set penalties for the use of White House meals and accommodations for political fund raising.

Title VIII: Sense of the Congress Regarding Fundraising on Federal Government Property - Expresses the sense of the Congress that Federal law clearly demonstrates that "controlling legal authority" under the Federal criminal code prohibits the use of Federal property to raise campaign funds.

Title IX: Prohibiting Solicitation to Obtain Access to Certain Federal Government Property - Amends the Federal criminal code to impose criminal penalties upon anyone who solicits or receives anything of value in consideration of providing a person with access to Air Force One, Marine One, Air Force Two, Marine Two, the White House, or Vice President's residence.

Title X: Reimbursement for Use of Government Property for Campaign Activity - Amends FECA to require any political committee of a national political party for whom the President, Vice President, or any executive department head uses Air Force One for transportation for any travel which includes a fund raising event for committee benefit to reimburse the Federal Government for the fair market value of the transportation of the individual involved, based on the cost of an equivalent commercial chartered flight.

(Sec. 1002) Requires a candidate for election for Federal office (other than a candidate who holds Federal office) to reimburse the Federal Government via the candidate's principal campaign committee for the costs of using Government property for campaign-related travel for election for such office.

Title XI: Prohibiting Use of Walking Around Money - Amends FECA to make it unlawful for any political committee to provide currency to any individual (directly or through an agent of the committee) for purposes of encouraging the individual to appear at the polling place for the election.

Title XII: Enhancing Enforcement of Campaign Law - Amends FECA to: (1) mandate between one and ten years imprisonment for any person who knowingly and willfully violates any FECA provisions involving making, receiving, or reporting any contribution or expenditure aggregating $2,000 or more per calendar year; and (2) authorize the Attorney General to bring criminal actions for a FECA or PECFA violation.

Title XIII: Ban on Coordinated Soft Money Activities By Presidential Candidates - Amends IRC to prohibit coordination of soft money for issue advocacy by presidential and vice presidential candidates receiving public financing from PECF, unless such funds are subject to FECA requirements.

Title XIV: Posting Names of Certain Air Force One Passengers on Internet - Directs the President to make available through the Internet the names of non-governmental passengers on Air Force One and Two, with certain exceptions for national security reasons.

Title XV: Expulsion Proceedings for House Members Receiving Foreign Contributions - Mandates that Members of the House of Representatives convicted of violating foreign national contribution prohibitions under FECA have such conduct reported to the House by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, along with any recommendation for expulsion.

Title XVI: Severability; Constitutionality; Effective Date; Regulations - Sets forth provisions concerning severability, review of constitutional issues, effective date, and regulations.