H.R. 1069, Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2015

H.R. 1069

Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2015

Date
January 11, 2016 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, January 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 1069, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 1069 was introduced on February 25, 2015 by Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote on March 25, 2015.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1069 requires presidential fundraising organizations to disclose to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), on a quarterly basis and in an electronically searchable and sortable format, basic information about donations to presidential libraries greater than $200, including the amount  or value, source, and date of the contribution.  The bill also requires the disclosure of occupational information for contributions made by individuals. This requirement would remain in place until the later of when the applicable President leaves office or such time as NARA assumes operational control of the facility.

The bill further requires the Archivist to publish on NARA’s website the submission data from each Presidential library fundraising organization within 30 days of its receipt in a manner that is free to access and is downloadable.  The bill also establishes criminal penalties for presidential fundraising organizations that knowingly and willfully submit false information with respect to a disclosure and for individuals who knowingly and willfully submit false information to a presidential fundraising organization with respect to a contribution.

Background

Under current law, “funds raised for libraries are unrestricted and able to be raised while the President is still in office.   Additionally, the source of each donation does not need to be disclosed. This reality has led to bipartisan concerns of potential impropriety, wherein library donations may be used as a way for donors to secure special access or political favors.”[1]

According to the bill sponsor, “presidential library fundraising organizations are formed while a president is in office and collect donations from individuals, corporations and foreign governments with no limit on the contribution amount.  When there is no requirement for disclosing the donor or the amounts being donated, there is great potential for abuse.”[2]

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[1] See House Report 114-181 at 2.
[2] See Press Release—“Duncan Seeks Presidential Library Transparency,” February 25, 2015.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that NARA would spend about $1 million over the 2016 to 2020 period to establish and maintain an online database. CBO estimates that any increases in federal spending to enforce penalties would be insignificant.  Because those prosecuted and convicted under H.R. 1069 would be subject to criminal and civil fines, enacting the legislation could increase federal revenues and associated direct spending. However, CBO estimates that such effects would not be significant in any year because of the small number of cases likely to be involved. Because the legislation would affect direct spending and revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures apply.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jerry White with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.