Text: S.2023 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (02/12/2014)


113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2023

To reform the financing of Senate elections, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
February 12, 2014

Mr. Durbin (for himself, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Franken, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Harkin, Mr. Heinrich, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Markey, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Shaheen, and Ms. Warren) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance


A BILL

To reform the financing of Senate elections, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title; table of contents.

(a) Short title.—This Act may be cited as the “Fair Elections Now Act”.

(b) Table of contents.—The table of contents of this Act is as follows:


Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 101. Findings and declarations.

Sec. 102. Eligibility requirements and benefits of Fair Elections financing of Senate election campaigns.

Sec. 103. Prohibition on joint fundraising committees.

Sec. 104. Exception to limitation on coordinated expenditures by political party committees with participating candidates.

Sec. 201. Broadcasts relating to all Senate candidates.

Sec. 202. Broadcast rates for participating candidates.

Sec. 203. FCC to prescribe standardized form for reporting candidate campaign ads.

Sec. 301. Petition for certiorari.

Sec. 302. Filing by Senate candidates with Commission.

Sec. 303. Electronic filing of FEC reports.

Sec. 401. Refundable tax credit for Senate campaign contributions.

Sec. 501. Fair Elections Fund revenue.

Sec. 601. Severability.

Sec. 602. Effective date.

SEC. 101. Findings and declarations.

(a) Undermining of democracy by campaign contributions from private sources.—The Senate finds and declares that the current system of privately financed campaigns for election to the United States Senate has the capacity, and is often perceived by the public, to undermine democracy in the United States by—

(1) creating a culture that fosters actual or perceived conflicts of interest by encouraging Senators to accept large campaign contributions from private interests that are directly affected by Federal legislation;

(2) diminishing or appearing to diminish Senators' accountability to constituents by compelling legislators to be accountable to the major contributors who finance their election campaigns;

(3) undermining the meaning of the right to vote by allowing monied interests to have a disproportionate and unfair influence within the political process;

(4) imposing large, unwarranted costs on taxpayers through legislative and regulatory distortions caused by unequal access to lawmakers for campaign contributors;

(5) making it difficult for some qualified candidates to mount competitive Senate election campaigns;

(6) disadvantaging challengers and discouraging competitive elections; and

(7) burdening incumbents with a preoccupation with fundraising and thus decreasing the time available to carry out their public responsibilities.

(b) Enhancement of democracy by providing allocations from the Fair Elections Fund.—The Senate finds and declares that providing the option of the replacement of large private campaign contributions with allocations from the Fair Elections Fund for all primary, runoff, and general elections to the Senate would enhance American democracy by—

(1) reducing the actual or perceived conflicts of interest created by fully private financing of the election campaigns of public officials and restoring public confidence in the integrity and fairness of the electoral and legislative processes through a program which allows participating candidates to adhere to substantially lower contribution limits for contributors with an assurance that there will be sufficient funds for such candidates to run viable electoral campaigns;

(2) increasing the public's confidence in the accountability of Senators to the constituents who elect them, which derives from the program's qualifying criteria to participate in the voluntary program and the conclusions that constituents may draw regarding candidates who qualify and participate in the program;

(3) helping to reduce the ability to make large campaign contributions as a determinant of a citizen's influence within the political process by facilitating the expression of support by voters at every level of wealth, encouraging political participation, and incentivizing participation on the part of Senators through the matching of small dollar contributions;

(4) potentially saving taxpayers billions of dollars that may be (or that are perceived to be) currently allocated based upon legislative and regulatory agendas skewed by the influence of campaign contributions;

(5) creating genuine opportunities for all Americans to run for the Senate and encouraging more competitive elections;

(6) encouraging participation in the electoral process by citizens of every level of wealth; and

(7) freeing Senators from the incessant preoccupation with raising money, and allowing them more time to carry out their public responsibilities.

SEC. 102. Eligibility requirements and benefits of Fair Elections financing of Senate election campaigns.

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“TITLE VFair elections financing of Senate election campaigns
“subtitle AGeneral provisions

“SEC. 501. Definitions.

“In this title:

“(1) ALLOCATION FROM THE FUND.—The term ‘allocation from the Fund’ means an allocation of money from the Fair Elections Fund to a participating candidate pursuant to section 522.

“(2) BOARD.—The term ‘Board’ means the Fair Elections Oversight Board established under section 531.

“(3) FAIR ELECTIONS QUALIFYING PERIOD.—The term ‘Fair Elections qualifying period’ means, with respect to any candidate for Senator, the period—

“(A) beginning on the date on which the candidate files a statement of intent under section 511(a)(1); and

“(B) ending on the date that is 30 days before—

“(i) the date of the primary election; or

“(ii) in the case of a State that does not hold a primary election, the date prescribed by State law as the last day to qualify for a position on the general election ballot.

“(4) FAIR ELECTIONS START DATE.—The term ‘Fair Elections start date’ means, with respect to any candidate, the date that is 180 days before—

“(A) the date of the primary election; or

“(B) in the case of a State that does not hold a primary election, the date prescribed by State law as the last day to qualify for a position on the general election ballot.

“(5) FUND.—The term ‘Fund’ means the Fair Elections Fund established by section 502.

“(6) IMMEDIATE FAMILY.—The term ‘immediate family’ means, with respect to any candidate—

“(A) the candidate’s spouse;

“(B) a child, stepchild, parent, grandparent, brother, half-brother, sister, or half-sister of the candidate or the candidate’s spouse; and

“(C) the spouse of any person described in subparagraph (B).

“(7) MATCHING CONTRIBUTION.—The term ‘matching contribution’ means a matching payment provided to a participating candidate for qualified small dollar contributions, as provided under section 523.

“(8) NONPARTICIPATING CANDIDATE.—The term ‘nonparticipating candidate’ means a candidate for Senator who is not a participating candidate.

“(9) PARTICIPATING CANDIDATE.—The term ‘participating candidate’ means a candidate for Senator who is certified under section 515 as being eligible to receive an allocation from the Fund.

“(10) QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTION.—The term ‘qualifying contribution’ means, with respect to a candidate, a contribution that—

“(A) is in an amount that is—

“(i) not less than the greater of $5 or the amount determined by the Commission under section 531; and

“(ii) not more than the greater of $150 or the amount determined by the Commission under section 531;

“(B) is made by an individual—

“(i) who is a resident of the State in which such candidate is seeking election; and

“(ii) who is not otherwise prohibited from making a contribution under this Act;

“(C) is made during the Fair Elections qualifying period; and

“(D) meets the requirements of section 512(b).

“(11) QUALIFIED SMALL DOLLAR CONTRIBUTION.—The term ‘qualified small dollar contribution’ means, with respect to a candidate, any contribution (or series of contributions)—

“(A) which is not a qualifying contribution (or does not include a qualifying contribution);

“(B) which is made by an individual who is not prohibited from making a contribution under this Act; and

“(C) the aggregate amount of which does not exceed the greater of—

“(i) $150 per election; or

“(ii) the amount per election determined by the Commission under section 531.

“SEC. 502. Fair Elections Fund.

“(a) Establishment.—There is established in the Treasury a fund to be known as the ‘Fair Elections Fund’.

“(b) Amounts held by Fund.—The Fund shall consist of the following amounts:

“(1) APPROPRIATED AMOUNTS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Amounts appropriated to the Fund.

“(B) SENSE OF THE SENATE REGARDING APPROPRIATIONS.—It is the sense of the Senate that—

“(i) there should be imposed on any payment made to any person (other than a State or local government or a foreign nation) who has contracts with the Government of the United States in excess of $10,000,000 a tax equal to 0.50 percent of amount paid pursuant to such contracts, except that the aggregate tax for any person for any taxable year shall not exceed $500,000; and

“(ii) the revenue from such tax should be appropriated to the Fund.

“(2) VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS.—Voluntary contributions to the Fund.

“(3) OTHER DEPOSITS.—Amounts deposited into the Fund under—

“(A) section 513(c) (relating to exceptions to contribution requirements);

“(B) section 521(c) (relating to remittance of allocations from the Fund);

“(C) section 533 (relating to violations); and

“(D) any other section of this Act.

“(4) INVESTMENT RETURNS.—Interest on, and the proceeds from, the sale or redemption of, any obligations held by the Fund under subsection (c).

“(c) Investment.—The Commission shall invest portions of the Fund in obligations of the United States in the same manner as provided under section 9602(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

“(d) Use of Fund.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The sums in the Fund shall be used to provide benefits to participating candidates as provided in subtitle C.

“(2) INSUFFICIENT AMOUNTS.—Under regulations established by the Commission, rules similar to the rules of section 9006(c) of the Internal Revenue Code shall apply.

“subtitle BEligibility and certification

“SEC. 511. Eligibility.

“(a) In general.—A candidate for Senator is eligible to receive an allocation from the Fund for any election if the candidate meets the following requirements:

“(1) The candidate files with the Commission a statement of intent to seek certification as a participating candidate under this title during the period beginning on the Fair Elections start date and ending on the last day of the Fair Elections qualifying period.

“(2) The candidate meets the qualifying contribution requirements of section 512.

“(3) Not later than the last day of the Fair Elections qualifying period, the candidate files with the Commission an affidavit signed by the candidate and the treasurer of the candidate's principal campaign committee declaring that the candidate—

“(A) has complied and, if certified, will comply with the contribution and expenditure requirements of section 513;

“(B) if certified, will comply with the debate requirements of section 514;

“(C) if certified, will not run as a nonparticipating candidate during such year in any election for the office that such candidate is seeking; and

“(D) has either qualified or will take steps to qualify under State law to be on the ballot.

“(b) General election.—Notwithstanding subsection (a), a candidate shall not be eligible to receive an allocation from the Fund for a general election or a general runoff election unless the candidate’s party nominated the candidate to be placed on the ballot for the general election or the candidate otherwise qualified to be on the ballot under State law.

“SEC. 512. Qualifying contribution requirement.

“(a) In general.—A candidate for Senator meets the requirement of this section if, during the Fair Elections qualifying period, the candidate obtains—

“(1) a number of qualifying contributions equal to the greater of—

“(A) the sum of—

“(i) 2,000; plus

“(ii) 500 for each congressional district in the State with respect to which the candidate is seeking election; or

“(B) the amount determined by the Commission under section 531; and

“(2) a total dollar amount of qualifying contributions equal to the greater of—

“(A) 10 percent of the amount of the allocation such candidate would be entitled to receive for the primary election under section 522(c)(1) (determined without regard to paragraph (5) thereof) if such candidate were a participating candidate; or

“(B) the amount determined by the Commission under section 531.

“(b) Requirements relating to receipt of qualifying contribution.—Each qualifying contribution—

“(1) may be made by means of a personal check, money order, debit card, credit card, or electronic payment account;

“(2) shall be accompanied by a signed statement containing—

“(A) the contributor’s name and the contributor's address in the State in which the contributor is registered to vote; and

“(B) an oath declaring that the contributor—

“(i) understands that the purpose of the qualifying contribution is to show support for the candidate so that the candidate may qualify for Fair Elections financing;

“(ii) is making the contribution in his or her own name and from his or her own funds;

“(iii) has made the contribution willingly; and

“(iv) has not received anything of value in return for the contribution; and

“(3) shall be acknowledged by a receipt that is sent to the contributor with a copy kept by the candidate for the Commission and a copy kept by the candidate for the election authorities in the State with respect to which the candidate is seeking election.

“(c) Verification of qualifying contributions.—The Commission shall establish procedures for the auditing and verification of qualifying contributions to ensure that such contributions meet the requirements of this section.

“SEC. 513. Contribution and expenditure requirements.

“(a) General rule.—A candidate for Senator meets the requirements of this section if, during the election cycle of the candidate, the candidate—

“(1) except as provided in subsection (b), accepts no contributions other than—

“(A) qualifying contributions;

“(B) qualified small dollar contributions;

“(C) allocations from the Fund under section 522;

“(D) matching contributions under section 523; and

“(E) vouchers provided to the candidate under section 524;

“(2) makes no expenditures from any amounts other than from—

“(A) qualifying contributions;

“(B) qualified small dollar contributions;

“(C) allocations from the Fund under section 522;

“(D) matching contributions under section 523; and

“(E) vouchers provided to the candidate under section 524; and

“(3) makes no expenditures from personal funds or the funds of any immediate family member (other than funds received through qualified small dollar contributions and qualifying contributions).

For purposes of this subsection, a payment made by a political party in coordination with a participating candidate shall not be treated as a contribution to or as an expenditure made by the participating candidate.

“(b) Contributions for leadership PACs, etc.—A political committee of a participating candidate which is not an authorized committee of such candidate may accept contributions other than contributions described in subsection (a)(1) from any person if—

“(1) the aggregate contributions from such person for any calendar year do not exceed $150; and

“(2) no portion of such contributions is disbursed in connection with the campaign of the participating candidate.

“(c) Exception.—Notwithstanding subsection (a), a candidate shall not be treated as having failed to meet the requirements of this section if any contributions that are not qualified small dollar contributions, qualifying contributions, or contributions that meet the requirements of subsection (b) and that are accepted before the date the candidate files a statement of intent under section 511(a)(1) are—

“(1) returned to the contributor; or

“(2) submitted to the Commission for deposit in the Fund.

“SEC. 514. Debate requirement.

“A candidate for Senator meets the requirements of this section if the candidate participates in at least—

“(1) 1 public debate before the primary election with other participating candidates and other willing candidates from the same party and seeking the same nomination as such candidate; and

“(2) 2 public debates before the general election with other participating candidates and other willing candidates seeking the same office as such candidate.

“SEC. 515. Certification.

“(a) In general.—Not later than 5 days after a candidate for Senator files an affidavit under section 511(a)(3), the Commission shall—

“(1) certify whether or not the candidate is a participating candidate; and

“(2) notify the candidate of the Commission's determination.

“(b) Revocation of certification.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commission may revoke a certification under subsection (a) if—

“(A) a candidate fails to qualify to appear on the ballot at any time after the date of certification; or

“(B) a candidate otherwise fails to comply with the requirements of this title, including any regulatory requirements prescribed by the Commission.

“(2) REPAYMENT OF BENEFITS.—If certification is revoked under paragraph (1), the candidate shall repay to the Fund an amount equal to the value of benefits received under this title plus interest (at a rate determined by the Commission) on any such amount received.

“subtitle CBenefits

“SEC. 521. Benefits for participating candidates.

“(a) In general.—For each election with respect to which a candidate is certified as a participating candidate, such candidate shall be entitled to—

“(1) an allocation from the Fund to make or obligate to make expenditures with respect to such election, as provided in section 522;

“(2) matching contributions, as provided in section 523; and

“(3) for the general election, vouchers for broadcasts of political advertisements, as provided in section 524.

“(b) Restriction on uses of allocations from the Fund.—Allocations from the Fund received by a participating candidate under section 522 and matching contributions under section 523 may only be used for campaign-related costs.

“(c) Remitting allocations from the Fund.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than the date that is 45 days after an election in which the participating candidate appeared on the ballot, such participating candidate shall remit to the Commission for deposit in the Fund an amount equal to the lesser of—

“(A) the amount of money in the candidate's campaign account; or

“(B) the sum of the allocations from the Fund received by the candidate under section 522 and the matching contributions received by the candidate under section 523.

“(2) EXCEPTION.—In the case of a candidate who qualifies to be on the ballot for a primary runoff election, a general election, or a general runoff election, the amounts described in paragraph (1) may be retained by the candidate and used in such subsequent election.

“SEC. 522. Allocations from the Fund.

“(a) In general.—The Commission shall make allocations from the Fund under section 521(a)(1) to a participating candidate—

“(1) in the case of amounts provided under subsection (c)(1), not later than 48 hours after the date on which such candidate is certified as a participating candidate under section 515;

“(2) in the case of a general election, not later than 48 hours after—

“(A) the date of the certification of the results of the primary election or the primary runoff election; or

“(B) in any case in which there is no primary election, the date the candidate qualifies to be placed on the ballot; and

“(3) in the case of a primary runoff election or a general runoff election, not later than 48 hours after the certification of the results of the primary election or the general election, as the case may be.

“(b) Method of payment.—The Commission shall distribute funds available to participating candidates under this section through the use of an electronic funds exchange or a debit card.

“(c) Amounts.—

“(1) PRIMARY ELECTION ALLOCATION; INITIAL ALLOCATION.—Except as provided in paragraph (5), the Commission shall make an allocation from the Fund for a primary election to a participating candidate in an amount equal to 67 percent of the base amount with respect to such participating candidate.

“(2) PRIMARY RUNOFF ELECTION ALLOCATION.—The Commission shall make an allocation from the Fund for a primary runoff election to a participating candidate in an amount equal to 25 percent of the amount the participating candidate was eligible to receive under this section for the primary election.

“(3) GENERAL ELECTION ALLOCATION.—Except as provided in paragraph (5), the Commission shall make an allocation from the Fund for a general election to a participating candidate in an amount equal to the base amount with respect to such candidate.

“(4) GENERAL RUNOFF ELECTION ALLOCATION.—The Commission shall make an allocation from the Fund for a general runoff election to a participating candidate in an amount equal to 25 percent of the base amount with respect to such candidate.

“(5) UNCONTESTED ELECTIONS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—In the case of a primary or general election that is an uncontested election, the Commission shall make an allocation from the Fund to a participating candidate for such election in an amount equal to 25 percent of the allocation which such candidate would be entitled to under this section for such election if this paragraph did not apply.

“(B) UNCONTESTED ELECTION DEFINED.—For purposes of this subparagraph, an election is uncontested if not more than 1 candidate has campaign funds (including payments from the Fund) in an amount equal to or greater than 10 percent of the allocation a participating candidate would be entitled to receive under this section for such election if this paragraph did not apply.

“(d) Base amount.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the base amount for any candidate is an amount equal to the greater of—

“(A) the sum of—

“(i) $750,000; plus

“(ii) $150,000 for each congressional district in the State with respect to which the candidate is seeking election; or

“(B) the amount determined by the Commission under section 531.

“(2) INDEXING.—In each even-numbered year after 2015—

“(A) each dollar amount under paragraph (1)(A) shall be increased by the percent difference between the price index (as defined in section 315(c)(2)(A)) for the 12 months preceding the beginning of such calendar year and the price index for calendar year 2014;

“(B) each dollar amount so increased shall remain in effect for the 2-year period beginning on the first day following the date of the last general election in the year preceding the year in which the amount is increased and ending on the date of the next general election; and

“(C) if any amount after adjustment under subparagraph (A) is not a multiple of $100, such amount shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of $100.

“SEC. 523. Matching payments for qualified small dollar contributions.

“(a) In general.—The Commission shall pay to each participating candidate an amount equal to 600 percent of the amount of qualified small dollar contributions received by the candidate from individuals who are residents of the State in which such participating candidate is seeking election after the date on which such candidate is certified under section 515.

“(b) Limitation.—The aggregate payments under subsection (a) with respect to any candidate shall not exceed the greater of—

“(1) 400 percent of the allocation such candidate is entitled to receive for such election under section 522 (determined without regard to subsection (c)(5) thereof); or

“(2) the percentage of such allocation determined by the Commission under section 531.

“(c) Time of payment.—The Commission shall make payments under this section not later than 2 business days after the receipt of a report made under subsection (d).

“(d) Reports.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Each participating candidate shall file reports of receipts of qualified small dollar contributions at such times and in such manner as the Commission may by regulations prescribe.

“(2) CONTENTS OF REPORTS.—Each report under this subsection shall disclose—

“(A) the amount of each qualified small dollar contribution received by the candidate;

“(B) the amount of each qualified small dollar contribution received by the candidate from a resident of the State in which the candidate is seeking election; and

“(C) the name, address, and occupation of each individual who made a qualified small dollar contribution to the candidate.

“(3) FREQUENCY OF REPORTS.—Reports under this subsection shall be made no more frequently than—

“(A) once every month until the date that is 90 days before the date of the election;

“(B) once every week after the period described in subparagraph (A) and until the date that is 21 days before the election; and

“(C) once every day after the period described in subparagraph (B).

“(4) LIMITATION ON REGULATIONS.—The Commission may not prescribe any regulations with respect to reporting under this subsection with respect to any election after the date that is 180 days before the date of such election.

“(e) Appeals.—The Commission shall provide a written explanation with respect to any denial of any payment under this section and shall provide the opportunity for review and reconsideration within 5 business days of such denial.

“SEC. 524. Political advertising vouchers.

“(a) In general.—The Commission shall establish and administer a voucher program for the purchase of airtime on broadcasting stations for political advertisements in accordance with the provisions of this section.

“(b) Candidates.—The Commission shall only disburse vouchers under the program established under subsection (a) to participants certified pursuant to section 515 who have agreed in writing to keep and furnish to the Commission such records, books, and other information as it may require.

“(c) Amounts.—The Commission shall disburse vouchers to each candidate certified under subsection (b) in an aggregate amount equal to the greater of—

“(1) $100,000 multiplied by the number of congressional districts in the State with respect to which such candidate is running for office; or

“(2) the amount determined by the Commission under section 531.

“(d) Use.—

“(1) EXCLUSIVE USE.—Vouchers disbursed by the Commission under this section may be used only for the purchase of broadcast airtime for political advertisements relating to a general election for the office of Senate by the participating candidate to which the vouchers were disbursed, except that—

“(A) a candidate may exchange vouchers with a political party under paragraph (2); and

“(B) a political party may use vouchers only to purchase broadcast airtime for political advertisements for generic party advertising (as defined by the Commission in regulations), to support candidates for State or local office in a general election, or to support participating candidates of the party in a general election for Federal office, but only if it discloses the value of the voucher used as an expenditure under section 315(d).

“(2) EXCHANGE WITH POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEE.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—A participating candidate who receives a voucher under this section may transfer the right to use all or a portion of the value of the voucher to a committee of the political party of which the individual is a candidate (or, in the case of a participating candidate who is not a member of any political party, to a committee of the political party of that candidate’s choice) in exchange for money in an amount equal to the cash value of the voucher or portion exchanged.

“(B) CONTINUATION OF CANDIDATE OBLIGATIONS.—The transfer of a voucher, in whole or in part, to a political party committee under this paragraph does not release the candidate from any obligation under the agreement made under subsection (b) or otherwise modify that agreement or its application to that candidate.

“(C) PARTY COMMITTEE OBLIGATIONS.—Any political party committee to which a voucher or portion thereof is transferred under subparagraph (A)—

“(i) shall account fully, in accordance with such requirements as the Commission may establish, for the receipt of the voucher; and

“(ii) may not use the transferred voucher or portion thereof for any purpose other than a purpose described in paragraph (1)(B).

“(D) VOUCHER AS A CONTRIBUTION UNDER FECA.—If a candidate transfers a voucher or any portion thereof to a political party committee under subparagraph (A)—

“(i) the value of the voucher or portion thereof transferred shall be treated as a contribution from the candidate to the committee, and from the committee to the candidate, for purposes of sections 302 and 304;

“(ii) the committee may, in exchange, provide to the candidate only funds subject to the prohibitions, limitations, and reporting requirements of title III of this Act; and

“(iii) the amount, if identified as a ‘voucher exchange’, shall not be considered a contribution for the purposes of sections 315 and 513.

“(e) Value; acceptance; redemption.—

“(1) VOUCHER.—Each voucher disbursed by the Commission under this section shall have a value in dollars, redeemable upon presentation to the Commission, together with such documentation and other information as the Commission may require, for the purchase of broadcast airtime for political advertisements in accordance with this section.

“(2) ACCEPTANCE.—A broadcasting station shall accept vouchers in payment for the purchase of broadcast airtime for political advertisements in accordance with this section.

“(3) REDEMPTION.—The Commission shall redeem vouchers accepted by broadcasting stations under paragraph (2) upon presentation, subject to such documentation, verification, accounting, and application requirements as the Commission may impose to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the voucher redemption system.

“(4) EXPIRATION.—

“(A) CANDIDATES.—A voucher may only be used to pay for broadcast airtime for political advertisements to be broadcast before midnight on the day before the date of the Federal election in connection with which it was issued and shall be null and void for any other use or purpose.

“(B) EXCEPTION FOR POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEES.—A voucher held by a political party committee may be used to pay for broadcast airtime for political advertisements to be broadcast before midnight on December 31st of the odd-numbered year following the year in which the voucher was issued by the Commission.

“(5) VOUCHER AS EXPENDITURE UNDER FECA.—The use of a voucher to purchase broadcast airtime constitutes an expenditure as defined in section 301(9)(A).

“(f) Definitions.—In this section:

“(1) BROADCASTING STATION.—The term ‘broadcasting station’ has the meaning given that term by section 315(f)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934.

“(2) POLITICAL PARTY.—The term ‘political party’ means a major party or a minor party as defined in section 9002 (3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 9002 (3) or (4)).

“subtitle DAdministrative provisions

“SEC. 531. Fair Elections Oversight Board.

“(a) Establishment.—There is established within the Federal Election Commission an entity to be known as the ‘Fair Elections Oversight Board’.

“(b) Structure and membership.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Board shall be composed of 5 members appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, of whom—

“(A) 2 shall be appointed after consultation with the majority leader of the Senate;

“(B) 2 shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader of the Senate; and

“(C) 1 shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the members appointed under subparagraphs (A) and (B).

“(2) QUALIFICATIONS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The members shall be individuals who are nonpartisan and, by reason of their education, experience, and attainments, exceptionally qualified to perform the duties of members of the Board.

“(B) PROHIBITION.—No member of the Board may be—

“(i) an employee of the Federal Government;

“(ii) a registered lobbyist; or

“(iii) an officer or employee of a political party or political campaign.

“(3) DATE.—Members of the Board shall be appointed not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

“(4) TERMS.—A member of the Board shall be appointed for a term of 5 years.

“(5) VACANCIES.—A vacancy on the Board shall be filled not later than 30 calendar days after the date on which the Board is given notice of the vacancy, in the same manner as the original appointment. The individual appointed to fill the vacancy shall serve only for the unexpired portion of the term for which the individual’s predecessor was appointed.

“(6) CHAIRPERSON.—The Board shall designate a Chairperson from among the members of the Board.

“(c) Duties and powers.—

“(1) ADMINISTRATION.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The Board shall have such duties and powers as the Commission may prescribe, including the power to administer the provisions of this title.

“(2) REVIEW OF FAIR ELECTIONS FINANCING.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—After each general election for Federal office, the Board shall conduct a comprehensive review of the Fair Elections financing program under this title, including—

“(i) the maximum dollar amount of qualified small dollar contributions under section 501(11);

“(ii) the maximum and minimum dollar amounts for qualifying contributions under section 501(10);

“(iii) the number and value of qualifying contributions a candidate is required to obtain under section 512 to qualify for allocations from the Fund;

“(iv) the amount of allocations from the Fund that candidates may receive under section 522;

“(v) the maximum amount of matching contributions a candidate may receive under section 523;

“(vi) the amount and usage of vouchers under section 524;

“(vii) the overall satisfaction of participating candidates and the American public with the program; and

“(viii) such other matters relating to financing of Senate campaigns as the Board determines are appropriate.

“(B) CRITERIA FOR REVIEW.—In conducting the review under subparagraph (A), the Board shall consider the following:

“(i) QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUALIFIED SMALL DOLLAR CONTRIBUTIONS.—The Board shall consider whether the number and dollar amount of qualifying contributions required and maximum dollar amount for such qualifying contributions and qualified small dollar contributions strikes a balance regarding the importance of voter involvement, the need to assure adequate incentives for participating, and fiscal responsibility, taking into consideration the number of primary and general election participating candidates, the electoral performance of those candidates, program cost, and any other information the Board determines is appropriate.

“(ii) REVIEW OF PROGRAM BENEFITS.—The Board shall consider whether the totality of the amount of funds allowed to be raised by participating candidates (including through qualifying contributions and small dollar contributions), allocations from the Fund under section 522, matching contributions under section 523, and vouchers under section 524 are sufficient for voters in each State to learn about the candidates to cast an informed vote, taking into account the historic amount of spending by winning candidates, media costs, primary election dates, and any other information the Board determines is appropriate.

“(C) ADJUSTMENT OF AMOUNTS.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—Based on the review conducted under subparagraph (A), the Board shall provide for the adjustments of the following amounts:

“(I) the maximum dollar amount of qualified small dollar contributions under section 501(11)(C);

“(II) the maximum and minimum dollar amounts for qualifying contributions under section 501(10)(A);

“(III) the number and value of qualifying contributions a candidate is required to obtain under section 512(a)(1);

“(IV) the base amount for candidates under section 522(d);

“(V) the maximum amount of matching contributions a candidate may receive under section 523(b); and

“(VI) the dollar amount for vouchers under section 524(c).

“(ii) REGULATIONS.—The Commission shall promulgate regulations providing for the adjustments made by the Board under clause (i).

“(D) REPORT.—Not later than March 30 following any general election for Federal office, the Board shall submit a report to Congress on the review conducted under paragraph (1). Such report shall contain a detailed statement of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Board based on such review.

“(d) Meetings and hearings.—

“(1) MEETINGS.—The Board may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Board considers advisable to carry out the purposes of this Act.

“(2) QUORUM.—Three members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for purposes of voting, but a quorum is not required for members to meet and hold hearings.

“(e) Reports.—Not later than March 30, 2017, and every 2 years thereafter, the Board shall submit to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration a report documenting, evaluating, and making recommendations relating to the administrative implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this title.

“(f) Administration.—

“(1) COMPENSATION OF MEMBERS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Each member, other than the Chairperson, shall be paid at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the minimum annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.

“(B) CHAIRPERSON.—The Chairperson shall be paid at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the minimum annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5314 of title 5, United States Code.

“(2) PERSONNEL.—

“(A) DIRECTOR.—The Board shall have a staff headed by an Executive Director. The Executive Director shall be paid at a rate equivalent to a rate established for the Senior Executive Service under section 5382 of title 5, United States Code.

“(B) STAFF APPOINTMENT.—With the approval of the Chairperson, the Executive Director may appoint such personnel as the Executive Director and the Board determines to be appropriate.

“(C) ACTUARIAL EXPERTS AND CONSULTANTS.—With the approval of the Chairperson, the Executive Director may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code.

“(D) DETAIL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES.—Upon the request of the Chairperson, the head of any Federal agency may detail, without reimbursement, any of the personnel of such agency to the Board to assist in carrying out the duties of the Board. Any such detail shall not interrupt or otherwise affect the civil service status or privileges of the Federal employee.

“(E) OTHER RESOURCES.—The Board shall have reasonable access to materials, resources, statistical data, and other information from the Library of Congress and other agencies of the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government. The Chairperson of the Board shall make requests for such access in writing when necessary.

“(g) Authorization of appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.

“SEC. 532. Administration provisions.

“The Commission shall prescribe regulations to carry out the purposes of this title, including regulations—

“(1) to establish procedures for—

“(A) verifying the amount of valid qualifying contributions with respect to a candidate;

“(B) effectively and efficiently monitoring and enforcing the limits on the raising of qualified small dollar contributions;

“(C) effectively and efficiently monitoring and enforcing the limits on the use of personal funds by participating candidates;

“(D) monitoring the use of allocations from the Fund and matching contributions under this title through audits or other mechanisms; and

“(E) the administration of the voucher program under section 524; and

“(2) regarding the conduct of debates in a manner consistent with the best practices of States that provide public financing for elections.

“SEC. 533. Violations and penalties.

“(a) Civil penalty for violation of contribution and expenditure requirements.—If a candidate who has been certified as a participating candidate under section 515(a) accepts a contribution or makes an expenditure that is prohibited under section 513, the Commission shall assess a civil penalty against the candidate in an amount that is not more than 3 times the amount of the contribution or expenditure. Any amounts collected under this subsection shall be deposited into the Fund.

“(b) Repayment for improper use of Fair Elections Fund.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—If the Commission determines that any benefit made available to a participating candidate under this title was not used as provided for in this title or that a participating candidate has violated any of the dates for remission of funds contained in this title, the Commission shall so notify the candidate and the candidate shall pay to the Fund an amount equal to—

“(A) the amount of benefits so used or not remitted, as appropriate; and

“(B) interest on any such amounts (at a rate determined by the Commission).

“(2) OTHER ACTION NOT PRECLUDED.—Any action by the Commission in accordance with this subsection shall not preclude enforcement proceedings by the Commission in accordance with section 309(a), including a referral by the Commission to the Attorney General in the case of an apparent knowing and willful violation of this title.”.

SEC. 103. Prohibition on joint fundraising committees.

Section 302(e) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 432(e)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

“(6) No authorized committee of a participating candidate (as defined in section 501) may establish a joint fundraising committee with a political committee other than an authorized committee of a candidate.”.

SEC. 104. Exception to limitation on coordinated expenditures by political party committees with participating candidates.

Section 315(d) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(d)) is amended—

(1) in paragraph (3)(A), by striking “in the case of” and inserting “except as provided in paragraph (5), in the case of”; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

“(5)(A) The limitation under paragraph (3)(A) shall not apply with respect to any expenditure from a qualified political party-participating candidate coordinated expenditure fund.

“(B) In this paragraph, the term ‘qualified political party-participating candidate coordinated expenditure fund’ means a fund established by the national committee of a political party, or a State committee of a political party, including any subordinate committee of a State committee, for purposes of making expenditures in connection with the general election campaign of a candidate for election to the office of Senator who is a participating candidate (as defined in section 501), that only accepts qualified coordinated expenditure contributions.

“(C) In this paragraph, the term ‘qualified coordinated expenditure contribution’ means, with respect to the general election campaign of a candidate for election to the office of Senator who is a participating candidate (as defined in section 501), any contribution (or series of contributions)—

“(i) which is made by an individual who is not prohibited from making a contribution under this Act; and

“(ii) the aggregate amount of which does not exceed $500 per election.”.

SEC. 201. Broadcasts relating to all Senate candidates.

(a) Lowest unit charge; national committees.—Section 315(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 315(b)) is amended—

(1) by striking “to such office” in paragraph (1) and inserting “to such office, or by a national committee of a political party on behalf of such candidate in connection with such campaign,”; and

(2) by inserting “for pre-emptible use thereof” after “station” in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1).

(b) Preemption; audits.—Section 315 of such Act (47 U.S.C. 315) is amended—

(1) by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (e) and (f), respectively and moving them to follow the existing subsection (e);

(2) by redesignating the existing subsection (e) as subsection (c); and

(3) by inserting after subsection (c) (as redesignated by paragraph (2)) the following:

“(d) Preemption.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), and notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (b)(1)(A), a licensee shall not preempt the use of a broadcasting station by a legally qualified candidate for Senate who has purchased and paid for such use.

“(2) CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND CONTROL OF LICENSEE.—If a program to be broadcast by a broadcasting station is preempted because of circumstances beyond the control of the station, any candidate or party advertising spot scheduled to be broadcast during that program shall be treated in the same fashion as a comparable commercial advertising spot.

“(e) Audits.—During the 30-day period preceding a primary election and the 60-day period preceding a general election, the Commission shall conduct such audits as it deems necessary to ensure that each broadcaster to which this section applies is allocating television broadcast advertising time in accordance with this section and section 312.”.

(c) Revocation of license for failure To permit access.—Section 312(a)(7) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 312(a)(7)) is amended—

(1) by striking “or repeated”;

(2) by inserting “or cable system” after “broadcasting station”; and

(3) by striking “his candidacy” and inserting “the candidacy of the candidate, under the same terms, conditions, and business practices as apply to the most favored advertiser of the licensee”.

(d) Stylistic amendments.—Section 315 of such Act (47 U.S.C. 315) is amended—

(1) by striking “the” in subsection (e)(1), as redesignated by subsection (b)(1), and inserting “Broadcasting station.—”;

(2) by striking “the” in subsection (e)(2), as redesignated by subsection (b)(1), and inserting “Licensee; station licensee.—”; and

(3) by inserting “Regulations.—” in subsection (f), as redesignated by subsection (b)(1), before “The Commission”.

SEC. 202. Broadcast rates for participating candidates.

Section 315(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 315(b)), as amended by subsection (a), is amended—

(1) in paragraph (1)(A), by striking “paragraph (2)” and inserting “paragraphs (2) and (3)”; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

“(3) PARTICIPATING CANDIDATES.—In the case of a participating candidate (as defined under section 501(9) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971), the charges made for the use of any broadcasting station for a television broadcast shall not exceed 80 percent of the lowest charge described in paragraph (1)(A) during—

“(A) the 45 days preceding the date of a primary or primary runoff election in which the candidate is opposed; and

“(B) the 60 days preceding the date of a general or special election in which the candidate is opposed.

“(4) RATE CARDS.—A licensee shall provide to a candidate for Senate a rate card that discloses—

“(A) the rate charged under this subsection; and

“(B) the method that the licensee uses to determine the rate charged under this subsection.”.

SEC. 203. FCC to prescribe standardized form for reporting candidate campaign ads.

(a) In general.—Within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding to establish a standardized form to be used by broadcasting stations, as defined in section 315(f)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 315(f)(1)), to record and report the purchase of advertising time by or on behalf of a candidate for nomination for election, or for election, to Federal elective office.

(b) Contents.—The form prescribed by the Commission under subsection (a) shall require, broadcasting stations to report to the Commission and to the Federal Election Commission, at a minimum—

(1) the station call letters and mailing address;

(2) the name and telephone number of the station’s sales manager (or individual with responsibility for advertising sales);

(3) the name of the candidate who purchased the advertising time, or on whose behalf the advertising time was purchased, and the Federal elective office for which he or she is a candidate;

(4) the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the person responsible for purchasing broadcast political advertising for the candidate;

(5) notation as to whether the purchase agreement for which the information is being reported is a draft or final version; and

(6) the following information about the advertisement:

(A) The date and time of the broadcast.

(B) The program in which the advertisement was broadcast.

(C) The length of the broadcast airtime.

(c) Internet access.—In its rulemaking under subsection (a), the Commission shall require any broadcasting station required to file a report under this section that maintains an Internet website to make available a link to such reports on that website.

SEC. 301. Petition for certiorari.

Section 307(a)(6) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 437d(a)(6)) is amended by inserting “(including a proceeding before the Supreme Court on certiorari)” after “appeal”.

SEC. 302. Filing by Senate candidates with Commission.

Section 302(g) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 432(g)) is amended to read as follows:

“(g) Filing with the commission.—All designations, statements, and reports required to be filed under this Act shall be filed with the Commission.”.

SEC. 303. Electronic filing of FEC reports.

Section 304(a)(11) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 434(a)(11)) is amended—

(1) in subparagraph (A), by striking “under this Act—” and all that follows and inserting “under this Act shall be required to maintain and file such designation, statement, or report in electronic form accessible by computers.”;

(2) in subparagraph (B), by striking “48 hours” and all that follows through “filed electronically)” and inserting “24 hours”; and

(3) by striking subparagraph (D).

SEC. 401. Refundable tax credit for Senate campaign contributions.

(a) In general.—Subpart C of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to refundable credits) is amended by inserting after section 36B the following new section:

“SEC. 36C. Credit for Senate campaign contributions.

“(a) In general.—In the case of an individual, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this subtitle an amount equal to 50 percent of the qualified My Voice Federal Senate campaign contributions paid or incurred by the taxpayer during the taxable year.

“(b) Limitations.—

“(1) DOLLAR LIMITATION.—The amount of qualified My Voice Federal Senate campaign contributions taken into account under subsection (a) for the taxable year shall not exceed $50 (twice such amount in the case of a joint return).

“(2) LIMITATION ON CONTRIBUTIONS TO FEDERAL SENATE CANDIDATES.—No credit shall be allowed under this section to any taxpayer for any taxable year if such taxpayer made aggregate contributions in excess of $300 during the taxable year to—

“(A) any single Federal Senate candidate, or

“(B) any political committee established and maintained by a national political party.

“(3) PROVISION OF INFORMATION.—No credit shall be allowed under this section to any taxpayer unless the taxpayer provides the Secretary with such information as the Secretary may require to verify the taxpayer’s eligibility for the credit and the amount of the credit for the taxpayer.

“(c) Qualified My Voice Federal Senate contributions.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘My Voice Federal Senate campaign contribution’ means any contribution of cash by an individual to a Federal Senate candidate or to a political committee established and maintained by a national political party if such contribution is not prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

“(d) Federal Senate candidate.—For purposes of this section—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘Federal Senate candidate’ means any candidate for election to the office of Senator.

“(2) TREATMENT OF AUTHORIZED COMMITTEES.—Any contribution made to an authorized committee of a Federal Senate candidate shall be treated as made to such candidate.

“(e) Inflation adjustment.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—In the case of a taxable year beginning after 2017, the $50 amount under subsection (b)(1) shall be increased by an amount equal to—

“(A) such dollar amount, multiplied by

“(B) the cost-of-living adjustment determined under section 1(f)(3) for the calendar year in which the taxable year begins, determined by substituting ‘calendar year 2016’ for ‘calendar year 1992’ in subparagraph (B) thereof.

“(2) ROUNDING.—If any amount as adjusted under subparagraph (A) is not a multiple of $5, such amount shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of $5.”.

(b) Conforming amendments.—

(1) Section 6211(b)(4)(A) of such Code is amended by inserting “36C,” after “36B,”.

(2) Section 1324(b)(2) of title 31, United States Code, is amended by inserting “36C,” after “36B,”.

(3) The table of sections for subpart C of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 36B the following new item:


“Sec. 36C. Credit for Senate campaign contributions.”.


(c) Forms.—The Secretary of the Treasury, or his designee, shall ensure that the credit for contributions to Federal Senate candidates allowed under section 36C of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by this section, may be claimed on Forms 1040EZ and 1040A.

(d) Administration.—At the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Federal Election Commission shall provide the Secretary of the Treasury with such information and other assistance as the Secretary may reasonably require to administer the credit allowed under section 36C of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by this section.

(e) Effective date.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2016.

SEC. 501. Fair Elections Fund revenue.

(a) In general.—The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after chapter 36 the following new chapter:


“Sec. 4501. Imposition of tax.

“SEC. 4501. Imposition of tax.

“(a) Tax imposed.—There is hereby imposed on any payment made to a qualified person pursuant to a contract with the Government of the United States a tax equal to 0.50 percent of the amount paid.

“(b) Limitation.—The aggregate amount of tax imposed under subsection (a) for any calendar year shall not exceed $500,000.

“(c) Qualified person.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘qualified person’ means any person which—

“(1) is not a State or local government, a foreign nation, or an organization described in section 501(c)(3) which is exempt from taxation under section 501(a), and

“(2) has contracts with the Government of the United States with a value in excess of $10,000,000.

“(d) Payment of tax.—The tax imposed by this section shall be paid by the person receiving such payment.

“(e) Use of revenue generated by tax.—It is the sense of the Senate that amounts equivalent to the revenue generated by the tax imposed under this chapter should be appropriated for the financing of a Fair Elections Fund and used for the public financing of Senate elections.”.

(b) Conforming amendment.—The table of chapters of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after the item relating to chapter 36 the following:

(c) Effective date.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to contracts entered into after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 601. Severability.

If any provision of this Act or amendment made by this Act, or the application of a provision or amendment to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act and amendments made by this Act, and the application of the provisions and amendment to any person or circumstance, shall not be affected by the holding.

SEC. 602. Effective date.

Except as otherwise provided for in this Act, this Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take effect on January 1, 2017.