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senate Bill S. 558

Should Presidential Library Fundraisers Have Reporting Requirements?

Argument in favor

Making a donation towards a presidential library is essentially a political donation, but without campaign contribution limits - meaning that it can be a way to buy influence if it isn't monitored.

John's Opinion
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08/18/2015
Yes. This has been a post Presidency slush fund. Donations should be capped and treated like any other campaign contribution.
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Betsy's Opinion
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11/23/2015
Why do any past presidents have to get cash donations for their presidential libraries, when, as far as I know, they could well afford to build and maintain it themselves?
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08/19/2015
It's just a good way to keep honest people honest.
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Argument opposed

Many of the people making a donation of $200 or more aren’t doing it to buy influence - they want to preserve history. It seems unfair to treat a $200 donation the same as a $200,000 donation.

Patrick's Opinion
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02/03/2016
No, but they should not qualify for a tax write off either
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David's Opinion
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01/14/2016
Unneeded intrusion by congress (who arranged long ago for the public to pay for its library). If Congress wants to stop the fundraising, they should appropriate the funds for construction and maintenance of each past President's library.
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operaman's Opinion
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08/19/2015
Don't get involved! It they can't raise funds, then the president has lost is supporters. No big deal. A looser president has established his own fate.
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What is Senate Bill S. 558?

This bill would require organizations conducting fundraising for presidential libraries to report information about donors and donation amounts on a quarterly basis. The data would be made available to the public on the website of the National Archives in a free, searchable, sortable, and downloadable format within 30 days of receiving the fundraising organization’s report.


The reporting requirements would apply to all donations (either monetary or in-kind) that exceed $200 in value. Donor names, addresses, occupations, and the amount of the donation would all be made publicly available. These requirements would be in effect while the President is in office, and would end when the President leaves office or when the federal government assumes control of the library - whichever occurs later.

Impact

People and entities who donate to organizations fundraising for presidential libraries, organizations that are fundraising for presidential libraries, the National Archives.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 558

A CBO analysis of the 2014 version of this legislation estimated that the implementation of the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act would cost about $4 million over the 2015-2019 period. Establishing the online database on the National Archives website is projected to cost about $1 million and $600,000 annually to update and maintain it. There could be additional spending on law enforcement, court proceedings, or prison operations related to criminal violations under this legislation; or there could be additional revenues generated by fines assessed for violations of this Act. However, both the additional spending and revenues generated by these sources would be insignificant.

More Information

In-Depth: This legislation has a long if unsuccessful history in Congress. Previous versions passed the House in 2002, 2007 (when it was blocked in the Senate), and 2009. It was introduced in the House in 2013, where it survived committee but did not see a floor vote, and it was introduced in the Senate in 2014 only to meet a similar fate.


Of Note: Donations to presidential libraries have been under scrutiny since the Clinton administration. In 2000 it was discovered that Denise Rich donated $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library prior to President Clinton pardoning Ms. Rich’s husband who was wanted on 51 counts of tax and mail fraud, racketeering, and illegally violating a trade embargo with Iran.

During the George W. Bush administration a former lobbyist suggested that a foreign politician should make a $250,000 donation to the Bush library in order to secure meetings with senior members of the administration. Currently, the Obama Foundation - which raises money for President Obama’s presidential library - only provides ranges for the amounts of donations it has received.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Tim Evanson)

AKA

Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to amend title 44, United States Code, to require information on contributors to Presidential library fundraising organizations, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    IntroducedFebruary 25th, 2015