Presidential Library Funding Disclosure Bill Passes House

On March 14, 2007, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 1254, the “Presidential Donation Reform Act of 2007,” by a vote of 390-34. Unlike the previous two bills, the administration did not express an opinion on this legislation.

The floor debate, and text of the bill, can be found in the Congressional Record.

See how your Member of the House voted on the bill.

Presidential libraries are built using private funds raised by an organization or foundation working on behalf of the president. Under current law, donations for the presidential library can be unlimited in size and are not required to be disclosed. The bill would require that all organizations established for the purpose of raising funds for presidential libraries or their related facilities report on a quarterly basis all contributions of $200 or more.

Organizations that raise funds for presidential libraries typically begin fundraising while the president remains in office. Before the library is turned over to the National Archives, these organizations must raise enough money to build the library and to provide the Archivist with an endowment for the maintenance of the facility. Under the legislation, organizations fundraising for presidential libraries would be required to disclose their donations while the president is in office and during the period before the federal government has taken possession of the library. The bill sets a minimum reporting period of four years after the end of a president’s term.

Under the bill, presidential library fund-raising organizations would be required to disclose to Congress and the Archivist the amount and date of each contribution, the name of the contributor, and if the contributor is an individual, the occupation of the contributor. The National Archives would be required to make the information available to the public through a free, searchable, and downloadable database on the internet.

One of the concerns the bill is designed to remedy is the fact that foreign nationals can make unlimited contributions to a sitting, or former, president’s library foundation. This is in contrast to federal election laws which prohibit contributions by foreign nationals.