Rep. Takano Introduces Let It Go Act to Stop Personal Use of Campaign Funds After the Campaign Ends

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced the Let It Go Act to limit how long former political candidates can hold on to campaign funds while presenting them the option to return the money to donors, donate it to charity, or transfer to another candidate – all permissible uses under current election law.

“Americans make financial contributions to a candidate of their choice with the expectation that those funds will be put to good use by the candidate’s campaign,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “The Let It Go Act will help uphold that intention by ensuring that the hard-earned dollars Americans donate to campaigns every cycle are not being wasted by a candidate long after their campaign is over. And it will help restore trust that these funds are being used responsibly and not for personal gain.”

According to OpenSecrets, 42 Members of Congress who resigned or retired before the 2018 midterm elections had a combined outstanding balance of $50 million in campaign funds. Reports have highlighted how political candidates continue to use campaign funds after their campaign is over, with little regulation.

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) has no provision for how long contributions can be held by a candidate committee or potential candidate committee. As long as the correct disclosure paperwork is filed, that money can be held indefinitely. FECA has no provisions for a candidate’s retirement or even death. Some congressional and presidential campaign committees still have funds sitting years or even decades after the candidate’s run for office.

The Let It Go Act would require that after six years since the end of a candidate’s campaign or tenure in office, his or her committee would need to make a reasonable attempt to return donations to its donors, donate the money to charity, or send the funds to another national committee. Additionally, anyone registered to become a lobbyist would be required to resolve their campaign accounts within one year of enactment.

This legislation creates a practical and fair way to resolve campaign donations when they are no longer needed.


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