< Back to H.R. 1826 (111th Congress, 2009–2010)

Text of the Fair Elections Now Act

This bill was introduced on March 31, 2009, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Mar 31, 2009 (Introduced).

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I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1826

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 31, 2009

(for himself, Mr. Nadler of New York, Ms. Pingree of Maine, Mr. Jones, Mr. Platts, Mr. Cooper, Mr. Holt, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Heinrich, Mr. Polis of Colorado, Ms. Edwards of Maryland, Mr. Capuano, and Mr. Doyle) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

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

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.

Title I—Fair elections financing of House election campaigns

Sec. 101. Findings and declarations.

Sec. 102. Eligibility requirements and benefits of fair elections financing of House election campaigns.

Title V—Fair elections financing of House election campaigns

Subtitle A—General provisions

Sec. 501. Definitions.

Sec. 502. Fair Elections Fund.

Subtitle B—Eligibility and certification

Sec. 511. Eligibility.

Sec. 512. Qualifying contribution requirement.

Sec. 513. Contribution and expenditure requirements.

Sec. 514. Debate requirement.

Sec. 515. Certification.

Subtitle C—Benefits

Sec. 521. Benefits for participating candidates.

Sec. 522. Allocations from the Fund.

Sec. 523. Matching payments for qualified small dollar contributions.

Sec. 524. Political advertising vouchers.

Subtitle D—Administrative provisions

Sec. 531. Fair Elections Oversight Board.

Sec. 532. Administration provisions.

Sec. 533. Violations and penalties.

Sec. 103. Prohibition on joint fundraising committees.

Sec. 104. Limitation on coordinated expenditures by political party committees with participating candidates.

Sec. 105. Deposit of proceeds from recovered spectrum auctions.

Sec. 106. Designation of overpayments as contributions to Fair Elections Fund.

Title II—Improving voter information

Sec. 201. Broadcasts relating to all House candidates.

Sec. 202. Broadcast rates for participating candidates.

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

Title III—Responsibilities of the Federal Election Commission

Sec. 301. Petition for certiorari.

Sec. 302. Filing by all candidates with Commission.

Sec. 303. Electronic filing of FEC reports.

Title IV—Miscellaneous provisions

Sec. 401. Severability.

Sec. 402. Effective date.

I

Fair elections financing of House election campaigns

101.

Findings and declarations

(a)

Undermining of democracy by campaign contributions from private sources

The House of Representatives finds and declares that the current system of privately financed campaigns for election to the House of Representatives 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 Members of the House to accept large campaign contributions from private interests that are directly affected by Federal legislation;

(2)

diminishing or appearing to diminish Members’ 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 House election campaigns;

(6)

disadvantaging challengers and discouraging competitive elections, because large campaign contributors tend to donate their money to incumbent Members, thus causing House elections to be less competitive; 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 House of Representatives 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 House of Representatives 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 Members 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, incentivizing participation on the part of Members 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 House of Representatives and encouraging more competitive elections;

(6)

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

(7)

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

102.

Eligibility requirements and benefits of fair elections financing of House 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:

V

Fair elections financing of House election campaigns

A

General provisions

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 the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress, 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 60 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 the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress who is not a participating candidate.

(9)

Participating candidate

The term participating candidate means a candidate for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress 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 $100 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 a 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)

$100 per election; or

(ii)

the amount determined by the Commission under section 531.

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, including trust fund amounts appropriated pursuant to applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

(B)

Proceeds from recovered spectrum auctions

Amounts deposited pursuant to section 309(j)(8)(E)(ii)(II) of the Communications Act of 1934.

(C)

Designations of overpayments as contributions

Amounts appropriated to the Fund equivalent to the amounts of the overpayments of tax to which designations under section 6097 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 apply.

(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.

B

Eligibility and certification

511.

Eligibility

(a)

In general

A candidate for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress 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.

512.

Qualifying contribution requirement

(a)

In general

A candidate for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress meets the requirement of this section if, during the Fair Elections qualifying period, the candidate obtains—

(1)

a number of qualifying contributions equal to or greater than 1,500; and

(2)

a total dollar amount of qualifying contributions equal to or greater than $50,000.

(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;

(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; and

(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.

513.

Contribution and expenditure requirements

(a)

General rule

A candidate for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress 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 $100; 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.

514.

Debate requirement

A candidate for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress 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.

515.

Certification

(a)

In general

Not later than 5 days after a candidate 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.

C

Benefits

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 sections 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, and paragraph (1) shall apply to the last applicable election in the election cycle.

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 40 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 60 percent of the base amount with respect to such participating 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 for that election with respect to such candidate.

(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 candidate would be entitled to receive under this section for that election (determined without regard to this paragraph).

(d)

Base amount

The base amount for any candidate is an amount equal to 80 percent of the national average spending of the cycle by winning candidates in the last two election cycles.

523.

Matching payments for qualified small dollar contributions

(a)

In general

The Commission shall pay to each participating candidate an amount equal to 400 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.

(b)

Limitation

The maximum payment under this section shall be the greater of—

(1)

200 percent of the allocation under paragraphs (1) through (4) of subsection (c) for that election with respect to such candidate; or

(2)

the percentage of the 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 for the opportunity for review and reconsideration within 5 business days of such denial.

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 the amount of $100,000 or 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 Member of the House of Representatives (including a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to the Congress) 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 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

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

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)).

D

Administrative provisions

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, of whom—

(A)

2 shall be appointed after consultation with the majority leader of the House of Representatives;

(B)

2 shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader of the House of Representatives; 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

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 House of Representatives 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 sections 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, 2011, and every 2 years thereafter, the Board shall submit to the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives 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.

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.

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.

.

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 candidate may establish a joint fundraising committee with a political committee other than an authorized committee of a candidate.

.

104.

Limitation on coordinated expenditures by political party committees with participating candidates

(a)

In general

Section 315(d)(3) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(d)) is amended—

(1)

by redesignating subparagraphs (A) and (B) as subparagraphs (B) and (C), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting before subparagraph (B), as redesignated by paragraph (1), the following new subparagraph:

(A)

in the case of a candidate for election to the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress who is a participating candidate (as defined in section 501), the lesser of—

(i)

10 percent of the allocation from the Fair Elections Fund that the participating candidate is eligible to receive for the general election under section 522(c); or

(ii)

the amount which would (but for this subparagraph) apply with respect to such candidate under subparagraph (B);

.

(b)

Conforming amendment

Section 315(d)(3) of such Act (2 U.S.C. 441a(d)(3)) is amended—

(1)

in subparagraph (B) (as redesignated by subsection (a)), by inserting who is not a participating candidate (as so defined) after only one Representative; and

(2)

in subparagraph (C) (as redesignated by subsection (a)), by inserting who is not a participating candidate (as so defined) after any other State.

105.

Deposit of proceeds from recovered spectrum auctions

Section 309(j)(8)(E)(ii) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)(8)(E)(ii)) is amended—

(1)

by striking deposited in and inserting the following: "deposited as follows:

(I)

90 percent of such proceeds deposited in

; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(II)

10 percent of such proceeds deposited in the Fair Elections Fund established under section 502 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

.

106.

Designation of overpayments as contributions to Fair Elections Fund

(a)

In general

Subchapter A of chapter 61 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new part:

IX

Designation of overpayments as contributions to Fair Elections Fund

Sec. 6097. Designation.

6097.

Designation

(a)

In general

Every individual (other than a nonresident alien) whose income tax liability for the taxable year is $10 or more may designate that $10 shall be paid over to the Fair Elections Fund in accordance with the provisions of section 502 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. In the case of a joint return of husband and wife having an income tax liability of $20 or more, each spouse may designate that $10 shall be paid to the fund.

(b)

Definitions

For purposes of this section—

(1)

Fair Elections Fund

The term Fair Elections Fund means the fund established by section 502 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

(2)

Income tax liability

The term income tax liability has the meaning given such term by section 6096(b).

(c)

Manner and time of designation

A designation under subsection (a) may be made with respect to any taxable year—

(1)

at the time of filing the return of the tax imposed by chapter 1 for such taxable year, or

(2)

at any other time (after the time of filing the return of the tax imposed by chapter 1 for such taxable year) specified in regulations prescribed by the Secretary.

Such designation shall be made in such manner as the Secretary prescribes by regulations except that such designation shall be made either on the first page of the return or on the page bearing the taxpayer’s signature.
(d)

Overpayments treated as refunded

For purposes of this title, any portion of an overpayment of tax designated under subsection (a) shall be treated as being refunded to the taxpayer as of the last date prescribed for filing the return of tax imposed by chapter 1 (determined without regard to extensions).

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of parts for subchapter A of chapter 61 of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

Part IX. Designation of Overpayments as Contributions to Fair Elections Fund

.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years ending after the date of the enactment of this Act.

II

Improving voter information

201.

Broadcasts relating to all House 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 (f) and (g) 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 the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress 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 (f)(1), as redesignated by subsection (b)(1), and inserting Broadcasting station.—;

(2)

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

(3)

by inserting Regulations.— in subsection (g), as redesignated by subsection (b)(1), before The Commission.

202.

Broadcast rates for participating candidates

Section 315(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 315(b)), as amended by section 201(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 Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress 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.

.

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.

III

Responsibilities of the Federal Election Commission

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.

302.

Filing by all 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.

.

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).

IV

Miscellaneous provisions

401.

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.

402.

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, 2011.