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H.R. 1316 (109th): 527 Fairness Act of 2005

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

6/22/2005--Reported to House amended. 527 Fairness Act of 2005 - (Sec. 2) Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to repeal the aggregate limit on contributions by individuals.

Revises the rules for increased contributions limits regarding House and Senate candidates facing wealthy opponents, to apply to such contributions certain additional limits on the time period for accepting them, and their total amount, which are currently waived when such contributions are made under increased limits.

(Sec. 3) Repeals the limit on the amount of coordinated party expenditures on behalf of candidates in general elections.

(Sec. 4) Increases from $5,000 to $7,500 the limits on contributions to or by multicandiate political committees (PACs). Increases from $15,000 to $25,000 the limits on PAC contributions to national party committees.

(Sec. 5) Indexes for inflation all contribution limits for PACs and for state party committees.

(Sec. 6) Exempts from specified contribution limits (thus permitting) transfers to national party committees from leadership committees (leadership PACS, or political committees supporting but not authorized by an individual holding federal office).

(Sec. 7) Increases from $1,000 to $10,000 the threshold minimum per year of contributions and expenditures determining whether a political organization is required to register with and report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as a political committee.

(Sec. 8) Prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions and donations to "section 527 organizations." (A 527 organization, as defined by section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, is an organization, not controlled by or involving a particular candidate for office, whose function is to influence or attempt to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any federal, state, or local public office or office in a political organization.)

(Sec. 9) Requires such organizations to submit reports to the FEC under such Act under the same terms and conditions, and at the same times, as federal political committees.

(Sec. 10) Repeals the prohibition (known as the Wellstone Amendment) against (thus permitting) expenditures for targeted electioneering communications by certain civic organizations, trade associations, and labor organizations.

(Sec. 11) Allows corporate and labor union PACs to solicit political contributions from members by communications of any sort (including fax machines or email; currently, only by mail). Repeals the requirement of prior written approval for solicitations of a restricted class by trade association PACs, and repeals the limitation of such solicitations to one trade association only.

(Sec. 12) Allows State and local political parties to use nonfederal funds for voter registration and sample ballots.

(Sec. 13) Modifies the authorization of federal candidates and officeholders attending fundraising events for state or local political parties to speak at such events. Allows such candidates and officeholders to speak without restriction.

(Sec. 14) Modifies the definition of public communication to exclude communications over the Internet from regulation under federal campaign finance laws.

(Sec. 15) Provides that a disbursement for an electioneering communication which refers to a candidate for federal office shall not be treated as a disbursement coordinated with such candidate (thus requiring payment with federal "hard" dollars) soley on the grounds that it contains a state or local endorsement, including endorsement of a position on a ballot initiative or referendum, or (in the case of a communication containing such an endorsement) that the candidate reviewed, approved, or otherwise participated in the preparation and dissemination of the communication.