Blue Dogs Back Bill to Increase Transparency for Presidential Inaugural Funds

May 15, 2018
Press Release

The fiscally-responsible Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed H.R. 5008, Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight Act, which would increase transparency and accountability around the fundraising and spending of Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) money. The bill was introduced by Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR), co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Government Reform and Accountability.

Every four years, between November and January, the incumbent President or President-elect establishes a short-lived Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) to plan and execute the Presidential Inauguration and celebrations. Currently, the Federal Election Commission requires every PIC to disclose basic information about donations to the committee; however, no such disclosure requirements or regulations exist around the spending of the funds. Additionally, unlike political campaign laws which regulate not only disclosures but fundraising and spending, there exist no laws around how each PIC may or may not spend the money it raises under the name of the President of the United States.

“We’ve spent the last few months in Congress in heated debate over how to spend federal dollars,” said Rep. Schrader, Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Government Reform and Accountability. “We have laws that regulate campaign finance and political action committees. But there is nothing on the books to dictate how money for the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), which is raised under the name of the President of the United States, can or cannot be spent. That’s wildly unacceptable. There needs to be transparency and accountability for money raised or spent in the name of our elected offices. The American people expect and deserve more, and working on this should be an easy, bipartisan slam dunk that everyone can get behind.”

The Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight Act would establish three basic requirements for all future Presidential Inauguration Committees:

1.    The committee must provide the FEC with a full list of expenditures for all committee business with regular updates until the committee is disbanded.

2.    A restriction that funds raised be spent only on official activities and not on lavish salaries or bonuses.

3.    A mandate that any surplus funds be given to a charity organization.

“Americans deserve to know how money is being spent around the presidency, and that should start once a President-elect is determined,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “As Blue Dogs, we believe that all federal officials should live up to a higher level of ethical standards and be transparent about their activities in their official roles. For too long, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has been able to operate without the level of accountability and transparency that is expected of the presidency of the United States. That needs to change, plain and simple.”