Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced the Inaugural Committee Transparency Act of 2019, legislation to increase oversight and public disclosure of how presidential inaugural committees spend the millions of dollars they raise and to help prevent the misuse of committee funds.
“The public has a right to know how inaugural committees are spending the millions of dollars they receive from big corporations and dark money donors. Presidential inaugural committees are raising more money than ever before, and yet there are few rules in place to ensure the American people know who is donating and how that money is being spent. This legislation is the first step towards creating transparency for any future presidential inaugural committee by making sure that these committees do not become vehicles for corruption or ‘pay to play’ politics.”
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are original cosponsors of this legislation.
Just this month, it was revealed that President Trump’s inaugural committee, which raised almost $107 million, paid the Trump International Hotel $175,000 per day for event space, which experts say was far above market rate. The committee is also under federal investigation for alleged misuse of donated funds and possible donations from foreign nationals. Under current law, there are few rules that govern inaugural committees. Donations to the committee of $200 or more must be disclosed 90 days after the inaugural period and donations from foreign nationals are prohibited, but there are no disclosure requirements for committee expenditures and no limitations on how leftover funds are used after the inauguration is over.
Detailed disclosure and common-sense limits on how inaugural committee funds are used would improve the transparency and integrity of a process dominated by deep-pocketed donors, and would bring rules regarding inaugural committees more in line with campaign finance laws.
The Inaugural Committee Transparency Act of 2019 would amend 36 U.S. Code § 510 to:
- Require an inaugural committee to disclose to the FEC the name and address of every person to whom any disbursement of $200 or more is made and the purpose of the disbursement;
- Prohibit donations on behalf of another person;
- Prohibit converting donations to personal use; and
- Require that any remaining funds be donated within 90 days of the inaugural ceremony to a 501(c)(3) charity.
This legislation is officially endorsed by Public Citizen and Common Cause.
Full text of the bill is available here.