Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Legislation to Ban Deceptive Campaign Fundraising Tactic
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Uncheck the Box Act with Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC) and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) to ban political campaigns from using prechecked boxes to solicit recurring contributions. The bill also prohibits campaigns from accepting donations through third-party fundraising platforms if the donation was made on a recurring basis without affirmative consent.
Last month, members of both parties on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted unanimously to recommend Congress amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to ban political campaigns from using prechecked boxes for recurring contributions. Their recommendation followed a report by the New York Times that the Trump campaign aggressively used automatic recurring donations, and later issued over 530,000 refunds to online donors, totaling $64.3 million.
“Political campaigns are about persuading voters on your values and ideas, not scamming people out of every last dollar they have,” said Rep. Levin. “Unfortunately, many Americans have unwittingly paid thousands of dollars to campaigns through the deceptive practice of automatic recurring contributions. I’m hopeful members of both parties can agree the American people deserve some basic protections against this scam and will help pass this legislation as soon as possible.”
“Using automatically prechecked boxes to sign people up for recurring donations without their knowledgeable consent is a scam,” said Rep. Beyer. “As Donald Trump’s campaign showed, this dirty trick is designed to bilk average people out of their money, and it should obviously be illegal. Congress must put a stop to it, and our bill is the way to do it.”
“Numerous electoral campaigns, including the Trump Campaign, have deceived their donors into giving on a recurring basis without having them explicitly opt into this agreement. The FEC has now taken the step of unanimously recommending that Congress end this practice,” said Congresswoman Ross. “I’m honored to join my colleagues, Representatives Levin, Beyer, and Malinowski in introducing this vital piece of legislation. The Uncheck the Box Act will protect donors from deception and financial abuse.”
“Sneaky fine-print clauses in fundraising emails and websites have duped many well meaning voters into agreeing to monthly, automatic campaign donations without their knowledge,” said Rep. Malinowski. “As elected officials, it is our job to build trust with our electorate. This legislation improves that trust by eliminating this deceitful and unethical fundraising tactic.”
Text of the Uncheck the Box Act is available here.