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WASHINGTON – House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (OH) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) introduced a bill yesterday that would level the playing field for presidential candidates by establishing a uniform date for the release of payments from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to the party nominees for president.
“The purpose of our bill is simple: to ensure that there is a level playing field for presidential candidates in the general election,” said Hoyer. “The two months preceding the November election are the time when voters intensify their scrutiny of the candidates and it is important that neither party have an unfair advantage due to a quirk in the nominating process. Presidential candidates should enter that critical period with the same public dollars in their respective campaign treasuries.”
“This bipartisan measure is based on the basic principle of fairness -- neither political party should have an advantage when it comes to spending public dollars on political campaigns. I am pleased to join my friend and colleague, Congressman Steny Hoyer, in supporting this bill,” said Ney.
The bill would designate the Friday of Labor Day weekend in a presidential election year as the day on which the party nominees receive public funds with which to mount their general campaigns. Labor Day was chosen because it is generally viewed as the start of the general election. Under current law, party nominees receive public funds when they formally accept their party’s nomination at the national conventions, which are typically scheduled weeks apart from one another and several weeks before Labor Day.
Under current law, once candidates participating in the program accept their party nominations, their campaigns may no longer raise and spend private contributions. The bill will not change that feature of the law.
In 2004, the major party presidential nominees received $74,620,000 in public funds under the Presidential Public Funding Program to pay general election campaign expenses.