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ASAE Says H.R. 1 Needs Greater Clarity

The resolution is a compendium of ideas Democrats have championed in recent years

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and other associations are increasingly concerned with a provision in House Democrats’ sweeping campaign finance bill that could be detrimental to associations that operate political action committees (PACs). The legislation, called the “For the People Act” or H.R. 1, is a compendium of ideas that Democrats have championed in recent years to promote transparency in campaign financing, strengthen government ethics and eliminate barriers to voting.

A piece of the bill is designed to prevent “foreign nationals” from influencing elections, but ASAE is concerned that the bill language is overly broad and threatens associations’ ability to establish and maintain PACs if they have a chief executive or members of their board of directors who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents. ASAE shared this concern in a letter to members of the House this week. House leaders are planning a floor vote on H.R. 1 on March 8, 2019.

“Associations that maintain PACs carefully ensure that foreign national executives or directors do not participate in the administration or decision-making process of the association’s PAC,” ASAE said in the letter. “Any change to existing law that would prohibit associations from maintaining a PAC if they have even one foreign national executive or director would constitute an egregious attack on the free speech rights of associations.”

ASAE has asked that the House not leave the expansion of the “foreign national” definition in H.R. 1 open to interpretation and ensure that association PACs are protected.

The Democratic-controlled House is likely to pass H.R. 1 this week, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has criticized the bill as a “solution in search of a problem” and vowed not to give it any floor consideration in the Senate.

This article was provided to OSAE by the Power of A and ASAE's Inroads.

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