Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Rep. Ellison Introduces Protect Democracy from Criminal Corporations Act

Jan 21, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced the Protect Democracy from Criminal Corporations Act today, legislation to limit campaign expenditures by corporations that break the law.

“Five years ago today, the Supreme Court decided corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Some of the resulting $700 million raised by SuperPACs  in 2014 came from companies that conspired to defraud the federal government or committed other felonies involving dishonesty or a breach of trust. Until we restore the power to people and reverse the decision in Citizens United, companies that break the law shouldn’t be allowed to flood our democracy with dirty money.”

The text of the bill is below.To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit criminal corporations from making disbursements of funds in connection with a campaign for election for Federal, State, or local office.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Protect Democracy From Criminal Corporations Act”.

SEC. 2. Prohibiting political spending by criminal corporations.

(a) Prohibition.—Title III of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30101 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

“SEC. 325. Prohibiting political spending by criminal corporations.

“(a) Prohibition.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—To the extent that corporations are permitted under law to make a disbursement of funds in connection with a campaign for election for Federal, State, or local office, including a disbursement consisting of a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, an independent expenditure, or a disbursement for an electioneering communication (as defined in section 304(f)(3)), it shall be unlawful for a corporation which is a criminal corporation, or for any separate segregated fund established under section 316(b)(2)(C) by a criminal corporation, to make such a disbursement during the applicable period described in paragraph (2).

“(2) APPLICABLE PERIOD DESCRIBED.—In paragraph (1), the ‘applicable period’ with respect to a criminal corporation is the 6-year period which begins—

“(A) in the case of a criminal corporation described in paragraph (1) of subsection (b), on the date on which the corporation is finally convicted of the offense described in such paragraph; or

“(B) in the case of a criminal corporation described in paragraph (2) of subsection (b), on the date on which the corporation enters into an agreement described in such paragraph.

“(b) Criminal Corporation Defined.—In this section, the term ‘criminal corporation’ means a corporation—

“(1) which has been convicted of violating section 371 of title 18, United States Code (relating to conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States), or any other felony involving dishonesty or a breach of trust; or

“(2) which has been charged with violating section 371 of such title or with another felony involving dishonesty or a breach of trust and has entered into a nonprosecution agreement, a deferred prosecution agreement, or any other agreement with the Attorney General to resolve the charge, if the terms and conditions of the agreement include a requirement that the corporation make a payment equal to or greater than $1,000,000.”.

(b) Effective Date.—The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to a corporation which is convicted of the offense described in paragraph (1) of section 325(b) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (as added by subsection (a)), or which enters into an agreement described in paragraph (2) of such section, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.