Petri Introduces Bill to Encourage Small Donors in Federal Campaigns

Nov 21, 2013 Issues: Campaign Finance Reform

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced legislation to encourage small donors to play a larger role in federal campaigns.  The bill—the Citizens Involvement in Campaigns (CIVIC) Act—would restore the tax credit and deduction for donations up to $200 and $600 respectively.

“Campaigns are becoming more and more expensive with no signs of slowing down,” said Petri.  “And most would agree that the ideal way to finance a campaign is through a broad base of donors.  Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t in the position to donate hundreds or thousands of dollars—but they want to get involved.  We should be encouraging political participation.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2011 – 2012 election cycle, winning candidates for a U.S. House of Representatives seat spent an average of $1.5 million.  Over $4.25 billion was spent in total during the last cycle, with 63 percent of donations coming from donors who gave more than $200.

“With more and more campaign operations moving to websites and online resources, campaigns could tilt the playing field away from special interests and large donors and empower small donors and average Americans,” said Petri.

A federal tax credit was available for small donations from 1972 – 1986, but was eliminated in the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  Currently five states—Virginia, Oregon, Ohio, Arkansas, and Minnesota—have tax incentives available for donations made to state-based elections.

To view Congressman Petri’s remarks on the House floor about the CIVIC Act, please click here.