The Georgia debut of a new campaign finance overhaul push

A conservative watchdog group will debut in Georgia a national push to close what it calls a glaring campaign finance loophole.Campaign finance

Take Back Our Republic set to launch an effort in Georgia next year for legislation that would require banks to verify that all credit card contributions to campaigns are from a valid U.S. address. Many political campaigns now opt-out of that voluntary requirement.

The group’s executive director, John Pudner, said he has already lined up a Republican sponsor – an unnamed committee chairman – to introduce the legislation. He wouldn’t say who the GOP backer was quite yet.

“We’re going to start it out here in Georgia first and then roll it out nationally,” said Pudner. “This is a conservative solution to a campaign finance problem.”

The legislation would apply to state candidates, but it’s unclear whether it would also apply to federal campaigns who do business through Georgia financial networks.

The Federal Elections Commission does not require campaigns to disclose the names of donors making contributions of less than $200, except for in the case of an audit. Pudner said allowing campaigns to opt-out of the credit card verification process allows donors to both parties to pile up potentially questionable donations with little oversight.

“You can site there now with a roomful of people and just make up names, going through the phone book, and donate $200 at a time,” said Pudner. “And as long as the names don’t show up as cumulatively over $200 it won’t show up. You can sit there overseas and crank in contributions.”

He called it the “modern-day equivalent of bags of money showing up in campaigns.”

Solicitation of campaign donations from foreign nationals that was prohibited by federal law since the 1970s but has not been significantly overhauled since the advent of online banking or social media. Conservative media have long accused President Barack Obama of exploiting the loophole.


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