WASHINGTON- Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to improve transparency of the donations made to build presidential libraries. The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2015 (S.558) would require organizations that raise funds for presidential libraries to disclose information to the National Archives about donors making contributions over $200. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) joined Sen. Carper as co-sponsors.
“Presidential libraries can help us learn about the American presidency and provide insight into how our past presidents directed their administrations,” said Sen. Carper. “This bipartisan legislation will provide transparency into the private donations presidents rely on to build their libraries and bring sunlight to the presidential library fundraising process, helping to eliminate even the appearance of impropriety.”
Under current law, there are no restrictions on fundraising for the libraries, funds can be raised while the President is still in office, and the source of the donations does not need to be disclosed. Over the years, this has led to bipartisan concerns of about potential impropriety, where library donations may be being used as a way for donors to secure special access or political favors. The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2015 brings transparency to the presidential library fundraising process by requiring fundraising organizations to disclose donor names and contribution amounts for donations received prior to the transfer of a library to the custody of the Archives. The legislation also requires the Archives to disclose the donations on its website in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable format.