Harrisburg, Pa. − June 25, 2021 − Today on the PA Senate floor, Senate Republicans refused to consider a campaign finance amendment offered by Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa. He introduced the amendment to House Bill 1300, a piece of legislation that Republicans have inaccurately touted as “comprehensive voting reform.”
The Republican motion to table the amendment passed on party lines, 29-21 and the amendment did not even receive consideration on its merits.
“I do not understand how Republicans can call this bill a comprehensive approach to restoring faith in our elections when they will not even consider one of the most pressing issues facing our process – unfettered and unlimited campaign contributions,” said Senator Costa. “For years I have introduced campaign finance legislation and the majority party in Harrisburg refuses to hold hearings, but what they did today was even worse. As they pretended to address voting reform, they would not even consider the merits of my legislation, which I believe would go a very long way in restoring public trust in campaigns and government.”
Senator Costa’s amendment mirrored legislation he has introduced for several sessions and would:
- Require the disclosure of expenses to these entities so that the public knows who is trying to influence our elections
- Require credit card statements to be filed with campaign finance reports, ban the purchase of gift cards with PAC money, and define “personal purpose” so that the law is clear about the types of expenses that are prohibited.
- Empower public requestors to challenge a campaign’s wrongful denial of access to its vouchers, which are supposed to be available for public inspection, before the Department of State and provide the Department with clear authority to enforce such access through penalties.
- Limit the donations and expenditures to and from candidates, political committees, political action committees, political party committees or other persons, for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. Limits on contributions and on the amount of donations candidates can take in will level the political playing field and limit corporate influence on our political system.
- Ban foreign corporate influence over our elections by prohibiting any corporation with a foreign owner holding at least 5% ownership (or foreign owners holding 20% ownership in the aggregate) from making independent expenditures, electioneering communication expenditures or contributions to political committees that make only independent expenditures (“super PACs”) for purposes of spending state and local elections in the Commonwealth.
Senator Costa voted against House Bill 1300, which despite Republican marketing efforts is nothing more than a broad attempt at voter suppression. The bill
- Limits the opportunity for counties to use drop boxes
- Gives LESS time to register to vote
- Requires voter ID each and every time you vote and requires 2 forms of ID when you vote-by-mail
- Requires signature verification with NO training or standards
- Gives LESS time to apply to vote-by-mail
- Creates several election-related audits under the Auditor General, a partisan elected official with no Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) experience
- Limits early voting
House Bill 1300 now goes to the Governor’s desk, where he has indicated it will be vetoed.