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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 30, 2015.
Empowering Mass Participation to Offset the Wealthy's Electoral Role Act or the EMPOWER Act
Amends the Internal Revenue Code and the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to revise the system of public financing for presidential primary and general elections occurring after January 1, 2016.
Increases the amount of matching funds for presidential primaries from a one-to-one match to a six-to-one match for contributions of $250 or less from individuals, with a limit on aggregate individual contributions of $1,000. Limits the total amount of payments to a presidential primary candidate to $300 million. Provides for an inflation adjustment to matching contributions beginning after 2015.
Requires presidential primary candidates who opt to participate in the public financing system to certify to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that they have raised $25,000 (currently, $5,000) in each of 20 states, with individual contributions limited to $250. Requires such candidates to commit to accept public financing in both the primary and general elections.
Prohibits presidential primary candidates or their authorized committees from accepting contributions or bundled contributions (i.e., combining small contributions into one large contribution) from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).
Eliminates expenditure limitations for presidential primary and general elections.
Changes the period for payment of matching funds to presidential primary candidates from January 1 of the election year to six months prior to the date of the earliest state primary election.
Revises financing provisions for general elections to: (1) limit individual contributions to participating candidates to $1,000; and (2) extend matching payments to general elections at a six-to-one rate for contributions of $250 or less, to a maximum amount of $300 million in total matching payments to a publicly-financed general election candidate.
Increases to $100 million the limit on coordinated spending by a national party and its presidential candidate in a general election campaign.
Establishes a uniform date for the release of payments to eligible general election candidates.