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house Bill H.R. 5129

Should Corporations be Banned From Having Political Action Committees (PACs)?

Argument in favor

Corporate PACs allow corporations to use money to buy influence in the American electoral system. This fundamentally skews politicians’ priorities, incentivizing them to put corporate interests ahead of those of the country and their constituents. Banning corporate PACs is an important step towards reclaiming the American political system for the people, rather than corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

jimK's Opinion
···
12/07/2019
We are supposed to be a government ‘of, by and for the people’ and not a government ‘of, by and for the PAC’. The stupidity of PAC legislation was highlighted by Stephen Colbert a few years ago, when he was legally able to form his own PAC on TV in real time, collect a over a million dollars from online donors that legally did not have to be identified, and then donate the funds to a variety of charities. He highlighted the tremendous power that PAC administrators have to collect ‘dark’ money and use it to buy political favor and to sponsor media blast smear campaigns against politicians who don’t fall in line. Legally PAC’s cannot be directed by the politician that they support but there is no enforcement to prevent round-about schemes. For example, trump’s campaign manager started a ‘for trump’ PAC within a company he owned and then transferred ownership of that company to his wife- sounds fishy to me, but apparently legal. Huge PAC funds in coordination with the RNC is the primary tool used for enforcing the lock-step unified regimentation of the Republican lemming parade - and re-enforces the party dominated entrenched positions which makes meaningful legislative compromise impossible. I certainly never voted for Karl Rove as a PAC master nor the Koch Brothers money to drive and shape our political processes. The legislation proposed here is a welcome start and I wholeheartedly endorse it as a first step. Corporate contributions need to be eliminated from all PACs, and not just those that corporation’s sponsor. Further, since ‘dark’ money and back room deals are still possible, we need to get rid of all PACs, PERIOD; and require public reporting of all cumulative campaign donations over some threshold from any single source or highly affiliated sources- so we can see who exactly who and what our politicians may be beholding to.
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Ticktock's Opinion
···
12/07/2019
Corporations are not people and have the ability to buy politicians by the dozens. Why have our politicians gotten so unresponsive to voter concern: huge political donations that are anonymous, gerrymandering and PACs that operate in the name of a politician but not controlled by that politician. Our Democracy should be about people not entities. Corporations just like religious organizations should stay out of politics. If those entities want to influence politics let it be through the people associated with them via education based on provable FACTS not alternate facts or outright lies as this Administration employs. The only way to mold a society that promotes people is to excluded anything that does not breath and have a heartbeat.
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Nona's Opinion
···
12/07/2019
Corporations are not people. PACs are not people. Union associations and issue focused groups are not people. When their right to free speech ends up suppressing the free speech of individual voters because of the difference in available financial backing, it is a problem. I support a limit on ALL donations regardless of source, and that limit needs to be at a level that gives everyone an equal chance at having a say, not just the loudest (most well funded) voices. I do recognize that lobbyists and issue groups have the resources to do research in depth that a staffer may not have time or expertise to dig up for themselves, and I welcome their continuing input but only in the form of information about their area of expertise, not in the form of dollars. There is a great need for more data driven and fact based decisions, and special interest groups can play a valuable role in helping provide and present that information. But nobody should be buying politicians (and politicians should have more self respect than to allow themselves to be sold).
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Argument opposed

Corporate PAC money is arguably one of the cleanest forms of PAC money in politics, given how heavily regulated corporate PAC contributions are & they’re a relative drop in the bucket compared to other contributions. Corporations have the First Amendment right to engage in politics, and it’s important to ensure that they’re able to support the candidates that share their views, just like individual citizens would do through their votes at the ballot box.

B.R.'s Opinion
···
12/07/2019
Not if you are going to just single out PACs. The entire political contribution system needs to be reformed. Until that is done, I would not recommend making any changes. We, all too often, make these smaller/symbolic changes without addressing the larger/core issue.
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JTJ's Opinion
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12/07/2019
There of many types of organizations and unions that donate politically. If you are not getting rid of all of them, then no.
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AmericaIsARepublic's Opinion
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12/07/2019
Absolutely not. It’s constitutionally protected free speech. And corporations absolutely are people. Anyone who claims otherwise reveals their abject ignorance. Alarming how the undemocratic party wants to ban everything they don’t like. That’s not how America works.
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What is House Bill H.R. 5129?

This bill — the Ban Corporate PACs Act — would amend campaign finance laws to prohibit for-profit corporations from sponsoring, operating, or funding a separate segregated fund (commonly known as a political action committee, or PAC). It would also dissolve existing corporate PACs a year after this bill’s enactment.

Impact

Voters; elections; money in U.S. elections; corporations; corporate PACs; political campaigns; and political campaigns’ receipt of money from corporate PACs.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5129

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) — who calls corporate political action committees (PACs) “legalized bribery” that shouldn’t have a place in American politics — introduced this bill to ban corporate PACs

“Corporate PACs flood [Washington, D.C.] with contributions, but it’s not the American people’s priorities they have in mind—it’s their own bottom lines. That’s wrong and at the root of Washington corruption. That’s why we must send a clear, unmistakable message to the American people that we are here to fight for them and only them—not the special interests and corporate PACs.”

In a November 15, 2019 Vox interview, he singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for accepting corporate PAC money: 

“Mitch McConnell has never met a corporate PAC, federal lobbyist, dark money outfit that he doesn’t immediately fall in love with. He is not a supporter of the swamp, Mitch McConnell is the swamp.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) says

“Our democracy is supposed to be for the people, not the special interests. I joined my colleagues to help introduce the Ban Corporate PACs Act to even the playing field for the American people and make sure their voices are heard in Washington. This legislation takes important steps to ban dark money and ensure representatives are beholden to those they represent—not anyone else.”

End Citizens United supports this bill. Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United Action Fund, says: 

“By supporting bold anti-corruption and government reform bills, Rep. Delgado continues to deliver on promises he made to voters in 2018. Helping to introduce the Ban Corporate PACs Act is a continuation of his commitment to making government work for people, not corporate special interests. The bill is aimed at ending the dominance of corporations in Congress so that progress can be made on issues important to everyday Americans.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been a staunch opponent of campaign finance reform for decades. He argues that enacting any sort of limits on campaign spending amounts to infringing on Constitutionally-protected free speech.

David Rehr, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at George Mason University and a former lobbyist who has run PACs in the past, argues that the current focus on corporate PAC money is a PR gambit for Democrats, rather than an indication of a real issue with corporate PAC money. He argues that “all the candidates are making a calculation. Is the value of the corporate money I’m going to receive greater than the value of the votes and support I receive from people who are distasteful of corporate PACs?”

Rehr points out that trade groups, labor unions, nonprofits, and other associations can also have PACs — but people aren’t suspicious of these organizations’ PACs in the same way that they are of corporate PACs. He argues that the heightened suspicion of corporate PACs is unfounded, and that corporate PAC money is “probably the cleanest money in politics today, the way it is regulated, and the limits that are put on it.”

Joseph Albanese, a research fellow at the Institute for Free Speech, adds that criticism of corporate PACs “represents cynical symbolism” that doesn’t directly affect the campaign finance system. He argues that criticism of corporate PACs perpetuates ignorance about political participation that “undermines our national discourse and subtly degrades support for First Amendment rights.”

This legislation has four Democratic cosponsors.


Of NoteCorporate PACs are often established and funded by corporations to influence policy. Often, corporate PACs are controlled by corporate lobbyists and expressly make contributions to forward business interests. 

After the Citizens United decision, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reports that outside organizations (non-party groups) spent about $310 million on the 2010 midterm elections. In the 2018 midterm elections, outside groups spent over a billion dollars, according to the CRP. For comparison, outside groups spent about $27.6 million in the 2002 election cycle and about $69.6 million in the 2006 election cycle.

A growing number of candidates for office and members of Congress — particularly Democrats — have sworn off donations from corporate or business-related PACs, as they blame them for the rising influence of money in politics. Rep. Rose and original cosponsor Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA), along with nearly 200 other House candidates, refused to take corporate PAC money during their 2018 campaigns.

Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Julian Castro, have also committed to rejecting corporate PAC money to some degree. However, Brendan Glavin, senior data analyst at the Campaign Finance Institute, points out that corporate PAC money doesn’t mean much for a presidential campaign’s bottom line. He observes, “Historically, presidential campaigns are about individual contributions. Corporate PAC money has not been a factor in presidential fundraising.” In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton raised about $250,000 from corporate PACs, which represented less than 0.5% of the money she raised. Similarly, for Donald Trump, corporate PAC money accounted for only about $26,000 (about 0.01%) of his total fundraising.

While Democrats are beginning to eschew corporate PAC money, Republicans continue to welcome corporate PAC donations. The CRP reports that 41 of the 50 House candidates who received the most corporate PAC money in the 2018 midterm cycle were Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / vladans)

AKA

Ban Corporate PACs Act

Official Title

To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to limit the authority of corporations to establish and operate separate segregated funds utilized for political purposes, including the establishment or operation of a political committee, to nonprofit corporations, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
    IntroducedNovember 15th, 2019
    We are supposed to be a government ‘of, by and for the people’ and not a government ‘of, by and for the PAC’. The stupidity of PAC legislation was highlighted by Stephen Colbert a few years ago, when he was legally able to form his own PAC on TV in real time, collect a over a million dollars from online donors that legally did not have to be identified, and then donate the funds to a variety of charities. He highlighted the tremendous power that PAC administrators have to collect ‘dark’ money and use it to buy political favor and to sponsor media blast smear campaigns against politicians who don’t fall in line. Legally PAC’s cannot be directed by the politician that they support but there is no enforcement to prevent round-about schemes. For example, trump’s campaign manager started a ‘for trump’ PAC within a company he owned and then transferred ownership of that company to his wife- sounds fishy to me, but apparently legal. Huge PAC funds in coordination with the RNC is the primary tool used for enforcing the lock-step unified regimentation of the Republican lemming parade - and re-enforces the party dominated entrenched positions which makes meaningful legislative compromise impossible. I certainly never voted for Karl Rove as a PAC master nor the Koch Brothers money to drive and shape our political processes. The legislation proposed here is a welcome start and I wholeheartedly endorse it as a first step. Corporate contributions need to be eliminated from all PACs, and not just those that corporation’s sponsor. Further, since ‘dark’ money and back room deals are still possible, we need to get rid of all PACs, PERIOD; and require public reporting of all cumulative campaign donations over some threshold from any single source or highly affiliated sources- so we can see who exactly who and what our politicians may be beholding to.
    Like (224)
    Follow
    Share
    Not if you are going to just single out PACs. The entire political contribution system needs to be reformed. Until that is done, I would not recommend making any changes. We, all too often, make these smaller/symbolic changes without addressing the larger/core issue.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    Corporations are not people and have the ability to buy politicians by the dozens. Why have our politicians gotten so unresponsive to voter concern: huge political donations that are anonymous, gerrymandering and PACs that operate in the name of a politician but not controlled by that politician. Our Democracy should be about people not entities. Corporations just like religious organizations should stay out of politics. If those entities want to influence politics let it be through the people associated with them via education based on provable FACTS not alternate facts or outright lies as this Administration employs. The only way to mold a society that promotes people is to excluded anything that does not breath and have a heartbeat.
    Like (148)
    Follow
    Share
    Government for the people, not for the corporations.
    Like (86)
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    Corporations are not people. PACs are not people. Union associations and issue focused groups are not people. When their right to free speech ends up suppressing the free speech of individual voters because of the difference in available financial backing, it is a problem. I support a limit on ALL donations regardless of source, and that limit needs to be at a level that gives everyone an equal chance at having a say, not just the loudest (most well funded) voices. I do recognize that lobbyists and issue groups have the resources to do research in depth that a staffer may not have time or expertise to dig up for themselves, and I welcome their continuing input but only in the form of information about their area of expertise, not in the form of dollars. There is a great need for more data driven and fact based decisions, and special interest groups can play a valuable role in helping provide and present that information. But nobody should be buying politicians (and politicians should have more self respect than to allow themselves to be sold).
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE All the money in politics not from INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE needs to stop. All corporations, PAC, lobbyists groups, foreign countries, everything like that. That shit is pure corruption. It’s literally stealing the power from the people. This country is NOT might makes right, or wealth makes right! All you supposed federalists out there READ 52! “the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone.” It’s talking about the House here, but that is abundantly clear. Citizens United was LITERALLY one of the WORST SUPREME COURT DECISIONS EVER MADE FOR OUR DEMOCRACY.
    Like (60)
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    We need to severely limit the amount of money in politics. All politicians are taking pay offs. Big business and the rich now rule the country through political donations.
    Like (50)
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    Corporations and lobbyists already have too much influence over our politician in Washington. Americans deserve to be well presented for the people and not in the interest of special interest.
    Like (39)
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    Yes! Corporations should not be able to campaign for or against anyone. In fact, I would say that all PACs should be outlawed because they have no accountability to the citizens to campaign fact from fiction! All campaigning should be authorized by the candidate. Period.
    Like (31)
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    The government is supposed to protect us from the excesses of corporations, not give corporations a means to manipulate our political system.
    Like (28)
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    Yes! Yes! Yes! Corporate influence and influence of the wealthy is undermining our democracy and creating corruption within our government!
    Like (26)
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    First, crporations should NEVER be allowed to vote. Thanks gives some people more than one vote! Since organizations cannot vote they should not be allowed to push an agenda/opinion. It is coersive or out right disingenuous to employees will don't hold there same views. Allowing this, effectively allowed the people who control the PAC to not only acquire finds from those that agree with it but also to indirectly pilfer funds from people that disagree with it.
    Like (24)
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    PACs should be banned across the board!
    Like (24)
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    Reverse Citizens United. Get dark money out of our political culture. It is feeding the sickness. Until we address the systemic issues of the undue influence of the billionaire and corporate class, nothing will change. You, our leaders, are part of the problem if you refuse to address the problem of PACs and dark money.
    Like (23)
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    Just as an official cannot take money from a foreign government out of principle, our officials should not take money from corporate PACs out of principle that they will not be swayed beyond their own ideas and beliefs
    Like (22)
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    Corporations need to stay out of politics. Corporations and their greed have donated millions to buy political favor. Such as, rolling back regulations, and many more things that are bad for the people and the environment. Republicans love corporations though because they line their pockets with money and fill their war chest with $$$$.
    Like (21)
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    The only way to make sure elected officials truly work for the people is to move to publicly funded elections, and to make it illegal to accept any other donations.
    Like (21)
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    The Supreme Court made a HUGE MISTAKE when they ruled that corporations had the same rights are “REAL” people. The WORST. The founding fathers would be DISGUSTED. That decision led to the situation we are in with Republican Congress being bought with the PAC money. They have no allegiance to the PEOPLE!!! They do whatever their Corporate PAC expect OR in the case of Trump who has been getting his MONEY from the Russians fir the last 20 years. HE DOES WHAT PUTIN TELLS HIM causing our country to be in the precipice of losing our democracy.
    Like (20)
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    One small step toward getting money out of politics. Are campaign spending limits next? We, the people, live in hope.
    Like (19)
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    YES! Get rid of the big money corruption.
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