Politics & Government

U.S. Rep. Kilmer introduces bill to ‘reverse’ budget language that allows wealthy to give more in politics

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer said Tuesday he introduced a bill to undo changes in campaign-finance law that were embedded in the omnibus budget that Congress sent to President Obama over the weekend for signing.

Specifically, the Gig Harbor Democrat wants to target a massive increase in the amount a wealthy individual can donate to a political party. That element of the last-minute, must-pass $1.1 trillion spending bill was cited by some of Washington state’s Democratic delegation as a reason they opposed it.

“There is already too much money in our politics,” Kilmer said in a news release announcing his proposal. “Slipping a provision into a must-pass government funding bill that multiplies ten-fold the amount that wealthy donors can contribute to political parties is exactly why folks hold Congress in such low regard. That's why I introduced legislation to try to protect the interests of 'We the People' and make sure the wealthiest donors don’t get another chance to flood our elections with even more money and to undermine our democracy.”

Kilmer said in a news release Tuesday that his measure, H.R. 5887, will be called the “Close the Floodgates Act.”

He said it seeks to restore caps on individuals’ contributions to political parties at $97,200 per year and eliminates new accounts created in the budget bill [H.R. 83] that allow contributions to parties of up to $777,600 a year or about $1.5 million in an election cycle; the money could be used for such things as conventions.

The lawmaker, who was recently re-elected to a second term in the 6th district serving Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula, had previously signed on as a co-sponsor of a Democratic campaign finance measure known as the DISCLOSE Act, which sought to undo impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 2010 case known as Citizens United, which opened the door to independent expenditures by groups whose donors are not disclosed.