Published January 13, 2015
Key provisions of the campaign finance bill passed Monday by the Senate:
—Soft money: Bans soft money, or unlimited contributions that unions, corporations and individuals may donate to political parties for use other than expressly advocating a candidate's election or defeat. State parties would be allowed to accept soft-money donations but would be banned from spending them on federal elections.
—Hard money: The limit for individual contributions to candidates per election, set at $1,000 in 1974, would be raised to $2,000. The limit for contributions to national parties would go from $20,000 to $25,000 per calendar year. The limit for an individual gift to a single political action committee would remain at $5,000 per year. A person could contribute a total of $75,000 to candidates, PACs and national party organizations over a two-year election cycle.
—Issue ads: Unions, corporations and some independent groups would be banned from broadcasting certain types of political advertising within 60 days of an election or 30 days of a primary. These commercials are generally known as "issue ads," because they refrain from advocating the election or defeat of candidates yet refer directly to them and can attack or defend them.
—Prohibits foreigners from making contributions to federal, state or local elections.
—Bans solicitation of campaign contributions on federal property, including the White House and Congress.
—Tells the Supreme Court it should judge each provision individually, and not view any legislation on an all-or-nothing basis.
—Raises allowable campaign donations to candidates running against self-financing rivals.
—Requires television and radio stations to make public information relating to all broadcast political advertising, including ads paid for by independent organizations. Requires more frequent disclosure for various party fund-raising committees, and orders the Federal Election Commission to put information on the Internet within 24 hours of receipt.
—Requires broadcasters to comply with existing law that requires them to charge candidates the lowest advertising rate available during the year.