Ernst Introduces Bill to End Taxpayer Funded Presidential Campaigns

Ernst’s bill would eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, redirect money to pay down the national debt

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), known for her efforts to cut government waste, is proposing to end a federal program used to fund presidential campaigns, and redirect the more than $350 million in the fund to pay down the federal deficit.

“Put simply, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund is a welfare program for politicians that’s doing nothing else but ballooning our deficit,” said Senator Ernst. “Iowa taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for failed presidential campaigns. Given the fact that not a single one of the candidates running for president this year have even asked for these funds and no candidate that has taken the money has won in 16 years, I say we eliminate this unnecessary federal program and redirect these taxpayer dollars toward tackling our growing debt.”

The Eliminating Leftover Expenses for Campaigns from Taxpayers (ELECT) Act of 2020 would eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and redirect the money remaining in the fund to reducing the deficit.

Currently, candidates for president may seek public funding provided by federal tax dollars in exchange for agreeing to limit private donations and overall campaign spending. A check-off on individual income tax returns allows taxpayers to direct $3 from their federal tax bills to this program, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund:

A few quick facts about the use and waste involved with the Presidential Election Campaign Fund:

  • It has been 16 years since a candidate receiving public funding was elected president. During that time, more than $100 million has been spent on the campaigns of losing candidates.
  • No candidate running for president this year has applied for support from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.  Even if one did, the Federal Election Commission, which administered the program, currently doesn’t have enough members to hold a meeting to approve the request.
  • More than $356 million is currently sitting in the fund, an amount that is likely to grow since it can’t even be given away.
  • Over the past fifty years, more than $1.6 billion in taxpayer money has been doled out to presidential campaigns and political party conventions from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

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