Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) introduced legislation today that would help ensure that those who violate campaign finance laws are held accountable. Earlier this summer, it was reported that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ran an illegal straw donor scheme by asking employees at his former company, New Breed Logistics, to donate to certain candidates running for office and to political committees. Mr. DeJoy then reimbursed those employees for the exact amount they donated with bonuses. Unfortunately, the five-year statute of limitation for federal campaign finance law for both criminal and civil violations means DeJoy could get away a serious federal offense based on the timing of his actions.
“Postmaster General DeJoy’s actions were not only egregious, they were clearly illegal and it appears that he lied about it while testifying under oath before the House Oversight Committee in August. He’s not the only one who may be able to get away with such blatant violations of the law. It often takes years to uncover these types of illegal schemes and the statute of limitations applied to these cases is absurdly short,” Rep. Speier said. “It shouldn’t be as easy as running out a clock to outrun the law. My legislation, H.R. 8718, will make it easier to hold those who violate the Federal Election Campaign Act accountable by extending the statute of limitations for criminal violations of FECA from 5 years to 10 years; and for civil violations from 5 years to 15 years.”
H.R. 8718 is co-sponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).
The legislation is endorsed by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Public Citizen. Quotes from supporting organizations are listed below.
“The statute of limitations has not stopped running despite the FEC being without a quorum, which means that political operatives who violated the law early in the last presidential cycle could run out the clock and avoid any accountability. Even when the FEC had a quorum, commissioners often delayed action on complaints, only to cite an expiring statute of limitations to dismiss or avoid fully investigating alleged violations. This bill sets a new and important standard, extending the statute of limitations for campaign finance violations in order to create the conditions for an accountable political system,” said Jo Deutsch, Director of Legislative Strategy, Campaign Legal Center (CLC).
“The Federal Election Campaign Act is a critical part of the way we regulate and protect our elections. Unfortunately, bad actors have managed to escape accountability under current law. Rep. Speier's bill is a critical step towards ensuring that these bad actors are held accountable. By extending the Act's statute of limitations, the bill would give prosecutors and civil regulators the opportunity to untangle the webs of shell corporations and other legal mechanisms that bad actors use to hide their actions,” said Jennifer Ahearn, Policy Director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
“Public Citizen applauds this commonsense reform from Rep. Speier. Enforcement of our campaign finance laws is sadly derelict, and this legislation will take an important step to ensure that serious violations are tackled. The American people deserve effective policing of the nation's laws to rein in out of control money in politics,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President, Public Citizen.
A copy of the bill is attached to this press release.
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