House Bill would Force Retired Politicians to Give up Surplus Campaign Funds after 6 Years
Democratic Representative Mark Takano of California has taken up an unpopular cause on Capitol Hill: ending the practice of lawmakers holding onto their campaign funds long after they have left office.
Takano has introduced legislation (H.R. 1518), the Let It Go Act, which would require representatives and senators to close down their campaign accounts six years after they leave Congress. So far he has not garnered a single coauthor for his bill.
Legislators have several options to dispose of their leftover contributions. They can be used to pay off outstanding campaign debts, refunded to contributors, transferred to political party committees or donated to nonprofit groups. They can’t be transferred to the candidate, however.
“If a person is not going to run for office, this money shouldn’t be able to sit around forever,” Takano told the Center for Public Integrity.
The Center says nearly $100 million in campaign funds were still sitting in campaign accounts of former political candidates as of last year.
Former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, who left office after 2010, still has nearly $10 million in his old campaign account. He says he doesn’t want to “foreclose any possibilities at this time,” because “the future is hard to predict.”
Disgraced Rep. Mark Foley (R-Florida), who stepped down in 2006 after being caught sending sexually explicit messages to male congressional pages, still had more than $1.2 million left in his congressional account as of March 31.
To Learn More:
Congressman To Colleagues: Surrender Surplus Campaign Cash (by Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity)
Nearly $100 Million in Campaign Cash Sits Idle (by Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity)
H.R. 1518 (Congress.gov)
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