Tester Helps Unveil Sweeping New Legislation to Combat Dark Money, Increase Transparency in Elections

Senator sponsors For the People Act to reform campaign finance laws

(U.S. Senate) – In his ongoing fight to clean up Washington, U.S. Senator Jon Tester has unveiled sweeping new legislation to make elections more transparent, hold elected officials accountable, and get dark money out of politics.

The Tester-backed For the People Act pushes for large-scale campaign finance reform, expands and protects the constitutional right to vote, helps close revolving doors that allow high-ranking officials to become lobbyists, and improves ethics rules for elected officials.

“Elections all over the country have been hijacked by special interests and wealthy donors,” Tester said. “Montanans expect real people and real ideas – not corporations and their money – to decide our elections. That’s why this bill is an important step towards returning our political process back to the voters, and making sure folks in Washington D.C. are working for all Americans, not just those signing the checks.”

The For the People Act includes many reforms that Tester has consistently advocated for in the Senate, including:

Campaign Finance Reform

  • Requires super PACs, nonprofits, and other political organizations that engage in political activity to disclose information about donors who contribute more than $10,000.
  • Requires certain tax-exempt organizations to disclose basic information about major donors to the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Requires disclaimers on online ads and requires large digital platforms to maintain a public database of political ad purchases that are over $500 per year.
  • Repeals current restrictions that prevent the Security and Exchange Commission from requiring disclosures to shareholders about political spending by publically traded companies.
  • Prohibits foreign nationals from making decisions about contributions by corporations or other entities.

Voting Rights

  • Requires states to offer same day voter registration on Election Day and during early voting.
  • Requires states to allow online voter registration and authorizes $500 million to help states implement an automatic registration system for eligible voters.
  • Prohibits states from imposing vote-by-mail restrictions and makes states report the number of mail-in ballots rejected because of signature mismatch.
  • Requires states to pre-pay postage on absentee ballots and allow people to drop off mail-in ballots on Election Day.

Revolving Door

  • Prohibits former senior government officials from lobbying their government agency for two years.
  • Prevents federal contracting officers from going to work for a contractor for two years after participating in a contact award to a company.
  • Expands the scope of individuals and activities that constitute lobbying, requires lobbyists to disclose their status upon making contact with a covered legislative office, and creates public clearinghouse for lobbying information.

Ethics Reform

  • Prohibits Members of Congress from using taxpayer funds to settle any case of employment discrimination based on acts by the member.
  • Prohibits Members of Congress from serving on boards of for-profit entities.
  • Requires the President and Vice President to disclose the past 10 years of tax returns.
  • Requires the President and Vice President to divest financial interest that pose a conflict of interest within 30 days of taking office.

Tester has been a champion for campaign finance reform. He introduced a constitutional amendment to repeal the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and has put forward numerous bills to get dark money out of politics. He has consistently supported measures to make elections more transparent and hold officials in Washington accountable.

Transparency advocates are applauding Tester’s leadership on the For the People Act:

“Senator Tester has been a leader on reducing the influence of big money in our politics and we thank him for co-sponsoring the For the People Act in the Senate,” said End Citizens United Action Fund President Tiffany Muller. “Our Democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder and the For the People Act will return power to the American people by increasing transparency and limiting the power of big money special interests. The Senate should pass this important piece of legislation and send it to the White House for the President to sign into law.”

“The For the People Act cuts to the heart of so much of what needs to be fixed in American government,” said John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation. “From addressing election security to strengthening ethics laws, bringing transparency to online political ads to mending our broken campaign finance disclosure system, the For the People Act presents a straightforward approach to some of our democracy’s most pressing issues.”

More on Tester’s efforts to shine a light on dark money is available HERE.