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Additional improvements which should be made to the public
financing provisions of the Act are:
A major party Presidential nominee receiving public
There are a number of changes which should be made in the statute to enable the Federal Election Commission to better perform
its mission. Such changes should be aimed at reducing delays and eliminating cumbersome procedures, particularly in the area of judicial review.
One problem which the FEC often faces is the limited availability of the advisory opinion procedure. When coupled with the prohibition on giving an opinion of an advisory nature outside the formal advisory opinion process of S 437€, the restrictions on standing to receive an advisory opinion severely hamper the Fec's ability to advise certain parties on how they may comply with the FECA.
Under current law, only Federal officeholders, Federal candidates, political committees and the national committee of a political party
may request an advisory opinion.
Many other individuals and organiza
tions are subject to the FECA, however, such as corporations, labor organizations, State and local officials, and individual contributors. To encourage voluntary compliance with the FECA, any person subject
to the provisions of the FECA should have standing to request an advisory
opinion on the applicability of the FECA or FEC regulations to a
specific factual situation in which the requestor is involved.
To reduce delays, our recommendations also include proposals
for shortening the regulation review period and the conciliation
period for enforcement actions.
The judicial review provisions of the FECA also have created a
unique procedural problem for the Federal courts.
2 v.s.c. S 437h, the district court is empowered to certify
questions of constitutionality of the Act's provisions directly to the Court of Appeals. Actions to construe the public
financing provisions under 26 U.S.C. S. 9011(b)(2) are required
to be heard by a three judge panel of the district court.
in cases involving both Title 2 and Title 26 questions, the
courts, beginning with Buckley v. Valeo, have felt it necessary to simultaneously convene a three judge district court panel, and
the Court of Appeals en banc to hear the same case.
This confused situation could be eliminated by making the judicial
review provisions of Title 2 and Title 26 conform to one another.
A more effective measure than merely conforming the two provisions,
for ten suits, six of which are still in litigation. The provision flies in the face of traditional Federal jurisprudence by requiring consideration of constitutional questions prior to questions of statutory construction or application. Furthermore, by not requiring any action on the Commission's part before a constitutional question may be brought, the statute effectively places the court in the position of issuing an advisory opinion. This is a role which the Federal courts have consistently sought to avoid. Since Buckley has been heard, $437h should simply be stricken.
Further suggestions for changes to the FECA are included in
the Appendix to this statement.
These recommendations are all based
on the FEC's experience gained in administering the Act for the past
The FEC and its staff are ready to assist the Committee and its
for those required to comply with it.
Chapter 8 Legislative Recommendations
In 1976 Congress enacted the fourth major overhaul of campaign financing laws in slightly over four years. During implementation of the 1976 Act, the Federal Election Commission kept a continually updated list of apparent statutory omissions, inadequacies and other problems. This list served as the basis for the Commission's legislative recommendations in its 1976 Annual Report, submitted in March 1977. Several additional recommendations were made in the 1977 Annual Report, submitted in March 1978.
Principal Campaign Committee Reporting The Act requires each candidate to designate a principal campaign committee which must file reports. Since the candidate has a separate reporting obligation many campaigns file two sets of reports. The Commission recommends that candidates should be given two options: either (a) file all reports of receipts and expenditures on a candidate's report and have no committee or (b) designate a principal campaign committee which would compile and file all reports. This change often would reduce by one-half the number of reports required for some campaigns.
The Commission reiterates its support for its 1976 and 1977 recommendations and includes additional recommendations in this Annual Report. These recommendations seek to bring to Congress' attention provisions of the Act which merit revision.
The Commission has categorized these recommendations into seven separate areas: Simplification; Presidential Elections; Limitations and the Role of the Political Party; Commission Duties, Powers and Authority; Clarification; Corporate and Union Activity and Miscellaneous.
Presidential Candidates Presidential candidates operating in two or more states should be required to file monthly in an election year and quarterly in a nonelection year, as is the case under current law. For all candidates and committees, the 10-day preelection report should be changed to a 12-day preelection report. For a Tuesday election, the tenth day before an election is a Saturday and reports received usually are not processed and microfilmed until Monday. A 12-day preelection report would be due on Thursday and would substantially increase the period during which these reports are publicly available prior to the election. (Note: appropriate adjustments will be needed in the 48-hour reporting requirements this recommendation is adopted.)
The Commission strongly believes that a simple, workable system of campaign financing regulations is achievable. Almost one-half of the Commission's recommendations seek to meet this goal. The 1974 Amendments attempted to reduce the number of reports required to be filed, but in 1976 and 1978 many candidates and committees actually were required to file more reports than previously. Implementation of the following recommendations dealing with reporting would dramatically reduce the number of reports required to be filed. Streamlining of the disclosure provisions of the Act will simplify reporting and maintain a high level of public disclosure.
Congressional Candidates During nonelection years, all Congressional candidates and committees should file only two reports, in July and at the end of the year. There should be no dollar threshold for filing these reports. Candidates and committees involved in special elections would file 12-day preelection reports and a 30-day post special general election report.
In election years, Congressional candidates and committees should file 12-day preelection reports, a 30-day post general election report