Money & Business

Campaign Finance Bill Needs Greater Clarity, ASAE Says

By / Mar 11, 2019 (Willowpix/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

H.R. 1, the voting rights and campaign finance bill that passed the House last week, may harm association PACs if its expanded definition of “foreign nationals” isn’t clarified, ASAE told lawmakers.

ASAE and other associations are increasingly concerned with a provision in House Democrats’ sweeping campaign finance bill that could be detrimental to associations that operate political action committees (PACs).

The legislation, called the “For the People Act,” or H.R. 1, is a compendium of ideas that Democrats have championed in recent years to promote transparency in campaign financing, strengthen government ethics, and eliminate barriers to voting. The House passed the bill March 8.

A piece of the bill is designed to prevent “foreign nationals” from influencing elections, but ASAE expressed concern that the bill’s language is overly broad and threatens associations’ ability to establish and maintain PACs if they have a chief executive or members of their board of directors who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents. ASAE shared this concern in a letter to members of the House last week.

“Associations that maintain PACs carefully ensure that foreign national executives or directors do not participate in the administration or decision-making process of the association’s PAC,” ASAE said in the letter. “Any change to existing law that would prohibit associations from maintaining a PAC if they have even one foreign national executive or director would constitute an egregious attack on the free speech rights of associations.”

ASAE asked that the House not leave the expansion of the “foreign national” definition open to interpretation and to ensure that association PACs are protected.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has criticized the bill as a “solution in search of a problem” and vowed not to give it any floor consideration in the Senate.

Chris Vest, CAE

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