The Lead

Bill banning pre-checked, recurring campaign donation box sees committee approval

By: - May 9, 2023 2:42 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

A pre-checked box that signs campaign donors up for recurring contributions could soon be banned in Pennsylvania.

The Republican-controlled Senate State Government Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance legislation prohibiting the tactic pioneered by former President Donald Trump — and adopted by dozens of Republican candidates — to collect recurring donations from supporters who didn’t uncheck the box on their own.

Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, D-Montgomery, authored the bill, describing the financing play as unethical and dark.

“Individuals who intend to provide a single donation but erroneously overlook the fine print of the pre-checked recurring donation box are alarmed to find additional donation amounts are being withdrawn from their bank accounts on a regular schedule, often monthly or weekly,” she wrote in a memo seeking legislative support.

After the Trump campaign issued millions in refunds because of the financing play, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have deemed the pre-checked box unethical. The Federal Election Commission also asked Congress to ban the practice.

“We need policies to protect them from being duped into contributing more to campaigns than they have intended,” Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, said, speaking on behalf of Cappelletti, who is on leave after having a baby in March. “Pennsylvanians put their trust in us as political candidates, so it’s important that we retain that trust and other transparency while in office.”

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