After extensive legislative deliberation over the past year, last week the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously approved a campaign finance reform bill which aims to tighten up rules around LLC contributions and promote fundraising transparency.  Notably, the D.C. Council had contemplated inserting pay-to-play restrictions in the campaign finance bill, but ultimately removed any such provisions in the final version of the legislation. 

A prominent feature of the legislation is the elimination of what some have referred to as the “LLC loophole,” whereby contributions by individuals and corporate entities might not be aggregated for purposes of contribution limits.  In addition to imposing a single contribution limit for “related businesses” with common owners, the legislation also mandates:

  • Training programs for political campaign treasurers;
  • Reporting of fundraising data by political campaigns;
  • Publication of fundraising reports by the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance; and
  • Lobbyist disclosure of “bundled” contributions forwarded to a campaign.

The legislation also enhances penalties for campaign finance violations and authorizes prosecution for misdemeanors by the D.C. Attorney General.  The bill still must be signed by Mayor Vincent Gray, and would not take effect until 2015.