Letter to the Hon. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, the Hon. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, the Hon. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, and the Hon. Charles Schumer, Senate Minority Leader - Stop Controversial Spending Bill Provisions That Would Increase Secret Money in Politics
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:
As negotiations over the omnibus for FY2018 agreement continue, we write to urge you to block any campaign finance policy riders in the final spending agreement.
Recent media reports indicate that several controversial policy riders designed to dramatically reshape federal campaign finance law are currently being considered for inclusion in the FY2018 omnibus spending package. Specifically, it has been reported negotiators are considering:
the elimination of coordinated spending limits on political parties,
a repeal of the so-called Johnson Amendment, which bars religious institutions from explicitly endorsing or opposing political candidates, and
the enactment of additional prohibitions on the authority of the Securities Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Executive Branch to apply commonsense transparency measures to certain political activity.
Each of these changes would have dramatic implications for our nation's campaign finance system, widening the channels of influence for wealthy and well-connected campaign donors and further exacerbating the flood of undisclosed and unaccountable "secret money" into our political system. Yet, the 115th Congress has not held one hearing, commissioned a single study, nor investigated in any serious way the ramifications of these ill-conceived policy riders. Put simply, it is irresponsible for Congress to advance these campaign finance changes without due deliberation and public debate.
As we know all too well, Americans trust in government is nearing an all-time low. Driving this historic mistrust is the public's belief that concentrated money in politics has undue influence on our political system. In fact, a recent survey found that Americans -- from across the political spectrum -- identified money in politics as the number one cause for dysfunction in Washington, D.C.  In the face of this reality, it would be unconscionable to exploit the must-pass FY18 omnibus spending agreement to further erode our nation's campaign finance system.
Americans deserve a Congress and political system that is responsive to the public's will. Any effort to bypass fairness and transparency when making changes to our campaign finance laws would be wrong as a matter of process and as a matter of policy. For these reasons, we urge you to reject any campaign finance provisions in the final omnibus agreement.