Rep. Price Introduces Legislation to Overturn Controversial “Dark Money” Rule

January 30, 2019
Press Release
House bill is companion to Senate measure authored by Sens. Tester, Wyden to protect democracy from foreign meddling and special interests


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, January 30, 2019, Congressman David Price (D-NC), Vice Chair of the House Democracy Reform Task Force, introduced legislation to overturn the U.S. Treasury Department’s controversial new decision that allows special interests—including foreign entities—to hide their major donors from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The legislation is a House companion to an identical Senate bill introduced by Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Rep. Price’s legislation is endorsed by Common Cause. Democracy 21, and has the following original cosponsors: Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Jan Schakowsky (IL), Vice Chair, Barbara Lee (CA), Vice Chair, Salud Carbajal (CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Tim Ryan (OH), John Garamendi (CA), and Anna Eshoo (CA).

At a time when our elections are plagued by unlimited corporate spending, anonymous donors, and illegal foreign meddling, the Trump administration’s decision to obscure millions in dark campaign money weakens our already failing campaign finance system and diminishes the power of voters,” said Congressman Price, Vice Chair of the House Democracy Reform Task Force.  “I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside Senator Tester and Senator Wyden to hold political groups accountable and shine a light on dark money in our elections.”


“Our Founders pledged their lives, their liberty and their sacred honor to build a government of the many, not of the money,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Congressman David Price and the House Democracy Reform Task Force have been champions in the fight to bring transparency and accountability to our campaign finance laws, and restore the full promise of our democracy.  By joining the Senate to overturn this dangerous IRS guidance, Democrats are taking action to strengthen the voices of the American people and end the self-enrichment, dark money and special interests that threaten our democratic institutions.  Guided by the vision and values of our Members and the priorities of the American people, the new Democratic Majority introduced H.R. 1, the For The People Act, to restore integrity in Washington and ensure that our government works for the public interest, not the special interests.”


“These dark money forces are a threat to our democracy and they must be reined in,” Senator Tester said. “This legislation sheds more light on the wealthy few who are trying to buy our elections and drown out the voices of regular folks. I am proud to work with Rep. Price to bring transparency and accountability back to political campaigns.”


“The Trump administration’s pro-dark money rule allows foreign powers and special interests to spread their influence even deeper into our democracy, so it’s got to go before the next election,” Senator Wyden said. “In the closing days of the last Congress, the Senate passed a resolution on a bipartisan basis to overturn this corrupt dark money rule, but it came to a screeching halt in the Republican-controlled House. This time around, I hope more Senate Republicans will support this pro-sunshine legislation tossing out the dark money rule and dare Donald Trump to side with powerful insiders and foreign meddlers over American voters.”


 “With special interests, multi-national corporations, and hostile foreign actors spending hundreds of millions of dollars in secret money to try to influence our elections in recent years, the Trump Treasury Department’s decision this summer to eliminate disclosure requirements on tax forms for certain organizations makes zero sense,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at the non-partisan watchdog organization Common Cause. “We applaud Congressman Price for introducing a resolution to overturn this rule because Americans deserve to know who is trying to influence their votes and their voices.”


“Democracy 21 strongly urges Representatives to support the CRA disapproval resolution sponsored by Representative David Price to invalidate the irresponsible Treasury Department rule that eliminates the existing requirement for nonprofit groups to disclose their donors to the IRS,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer. “Under existing law foreign governments can contribute unlimited amounts to nonprofit groups that spend money to influence elections. The elimination of the requirement for these contributions to be disclosed to the IRS opens the door for foreign interests to illegally launder huge sums through nonprofit groups to influence our elections without the government being able to know it is going on. If the new Treasury rule is not eliminated, a massive dark money loophole will be opened in our laws for foreign individuals, foreign corporations and foreign corporations to illegally spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. Any Representative who opposes the Price the disapproval resolution will be supporting a dangerous dark money loophole for illegal foreign money to be secretly laundered into our elections.”


The Spotlight Act would reverse the Treasury Department decision to allow politically active non-profit organizations to avoid reporting certain donor information to the IRS. Spending by these organizations is often called "dark money" because these outside groups generally do not have to publicly disclose the sources of their funding. The Treasury Department’s decision to further weaken these requirements may increase the risk that these entities will serve as conduits for extremely wealthy individuals and foreign interests to influence elections.

The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.