Leahy Unveils Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2015) – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced legislation Wednesday to stamp out coordination between super PACs and political candidates.

The Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act responds to the outsized role that super PACs now occupy in elections since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.  These Super PACs are able to raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and then spend unlimited sums to advocate for or against political candidates.  While they are technically prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, they often act as a direct arm of a candidate’s campaign.

Super PACs are supposed to be independent expenditure-only committees, but nobody believes that they truly act independently,” Leahy said.  “The Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act today would end the sham practice of presidential candidates boldly and shamelessly exploiting our campaign finance laws by coordinating with allegedly independent super PACs.”

The bill, an identical version of which was introduced in the House earlier this year by Congressmen David Price (D-N.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), codifies a definition of coordination based on Supreme Court rulings and creates a new definition of “coordinated spender” to ensure that single-candidate Super PACs do not act as an arm of a candidate’s campaign.  To prevent further skirting of coordination rules, the bill prohibits a group from using an internal firewall as the basis for avoiding the application of the coordination provisions.  The bill also prohibits candidates and their agents from raising money for Super PACs.  The bill is supported by a range of campaign finance reform and government sunshine groups.

Leahy is also a cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would bring greater transparency to campaign spending by requiring groups to disclose the source of the money they raise.  With Leahy as chairman last year, the Judiciary Committee approved a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding campaign finance and money in politics.  The amendment was blocked by Senate Republicans.

“The issue of how our politics are paid for is an issue that is important to the American people, and it is also important to Vermonters.  We have always remained steadfast in our belief that our democracy should not be for sale, and that the size of your bank account should not determine whether or not the government responds to your views or needs,” Leahy said.  “I will continue to do all I can to reverse the devastating effects of Citizens United and its subsequent decisions.”

An outline of the Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act can be found here. Text of legislation can also be found online.

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