Voting, Elections and Campaign Finance

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Rep. Eshoo believes our political process is too often distorted by the influence of money in politics and the distrust it breeds. Since she was first elected to Congress, Rep. Eshoo has worked to pass legislation to restore trust in our nation’s voting process.


The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent when it ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations can spend freely to support or oppose candidates for President and Congress. By allowing corporations unlimited access to their wallets, the Supreme Court undermined the principle of the “will of the people” in favor of the “will of the corporation.”

In response to the Court’s decision, Rep. Eshoo cosponsored H.R. 5175, the bipartisan DISCLOSE Act, which passed the House on June 24, 2010. Under this bill, organizations, including corporations, labor unions and nonprofit groups, would have to disclose to the Federal Election Commission all campaign-related expenditures or transfer of money to other groups within 24 hours. This would prevent the deceptive use of a sham umbrella group to support or oppose a candidate. The bill also required any organization which makes contributions to fully report them to shareholders and post them on their websites.

In the 113th Congress, Rep. Eshoo cosponsors the updated version of this legislation, H.R. 148, theDISCLOSE 2013 Act.

In addition to supporting the DISCLOSE Act, Rep. Eshoo is a cosponsor of H.J.Res. 31, a Constitutional Amendment that would clarify once and for all that Congress has the ability to regulate money in politics, drawing a fine line between dollars and free speech.

Rep. Eshoo has pledged that Citizens United will not be the last word on corporate influence on elections. She’s committed to reversing the Supreme Court’s decision and limiting the influence of corporate interests in the electoral process.

Securing Disclosure from Companies Receiving Taxpayer Dollars

In the 112th Congress, Rep. Eshoo advocated for increased transparency in the political activities of companies doing business with the federal government. She offered four different amendments to Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bills to require private companies receiving public funds to disclose their political spending. The amendments were procedurally blocked. Rep. Eshoo believes that with public funds come public responsibilities, and that taxpayers have a right to know where their money goes.

In her continuing effort to require such disclosure, Rep. Eshoo led 62 of her colleagues in writing to President Obama on July 28, 2011 in support of an Executive Order requiring all companies receiving taxpayer dollars when doing business with the federal government, to fully and completely disclose their political spending, writing that “with public funds come public responsibilities.”

On April 26, 2012, Rep. Eshoo once again led her colleagues in writing to the President in support of that Executive Order, citing reports that federal contractors had made large contributions to a leading Presidential Super PAC that have long been considered impermissible under campaign finance and “pay-to-play” laws. Her letter also coincided with Committee passage of legislation to specifically prohibit this kind of disclosure, which she called the latest example of “Republicans working to keep the lid on transparency and disclosure.”

Transparency in Political Advertising

As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee responsible for oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, Rep. Eshoo has led efforts to secure true disclosure of those who fund political advertisements. During markup of H.R. 3309, the FCC Process Reform Act, Rep. Eshoo offered an amendment to require disclosure in the existing “public file” of broadcasters, satellite and cable providers who contribute more than $10,000 to groups funding political ads. Under existing rules, the groups purchasing the ads are already disclosed, but too often do not identify those who provide funding, leaving voters to wonder about the true motivations of those purchasing airtime.

Rep. Eshoo has also been a leading voice in support of the FCC rulemaking to put existing broadcaster “political files” online, making them more accessible to members of the public. These files are already publicly available, but are paper-based and located in the physical files of individual broadcasters. Click hereto read Rep. Eshoo’s April 16, 2012, letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in support of the rulemaking. On April 27, 2012, the FCC voted to bring the files of the largest broadcasters in major media markets online, with all broadcasters required to comply by 2014.

Public Financing of Campaigns

Rep. Eshoo is a longtime supporter of public financing of elections, because every candidate who has broad grassroots support should be given a fair chance to be elected, not just those with personal wealth or special interests on their side. In the 113th Congress, Rep. Eshoo supports several bills that would overhaul our outdated presidential campaign public financing system and institute public financing for all federal cmapaings. These proposals will give voice to small-dollar donors and allow candidates to spend more time connecting with and engaging voters, rather than fundraising from special interests.

Rep. Eshoo is an original cosponsor of H.R. 270, the Empowering Citizens Act, which would provide public funds at a 5-to-1 matching rate for donations of up to $250, if the candidate agrees to abide by lowered contribution limits. This would amplify the voices of small donors over special interests, and would help ensure that the best, not the richest, candidate can win.

Rep. Eshoo is also a cosponsor of H.R. 268, the Grassroots Democracy Act, which provides a refundable tax credit for the first $25 donated to a Congressional campaign each year, if the donor gives less than $200 total. If enacted, H.R. 268 would encourage people who would not normally engage in the political process to get involved and make their voice heard. H.R. 268 also amplifies small-dollar donations by rewarding candidates who forswear large donations: small contributions would be matched with public funds at a 5-to-1 rate, or at a 10-to-1 rate if the candidate agrees not to accept any donations over $100.

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