The Federal Election Commission wants Congress to ban political campaigns from automatically collecting funds through pre-checked boxes on their website.
The Commission voted unanimously to recommend that Congress bar political campaigns from guiding donors by default into recurring contributions through prechecked boxes.
“The Commission’s experience strongly suggests that many contributions are unaware of the ‘pre-checked’ boxes and are surprised by the already completed transaction appearing on account statements,” the FEC said.
A New York Times investigation revealed that former President Donald Trump‘s campaign used pre-checked recurring donation boxes in 2020. The campaign ended up having to refund more than $122 million to supporters.
The FEC would like for Congress to mandate affirmative consent before donors are enrolled in contribution programs.
“It’s important that donors are able to exercise their choices freely,” Ellen L. Weintraub, a commissioner on the F.E.C., said. “If their money is being taken from them because of some reverse checkoff option they didn’t notice, then they are not giving their money freely.”
“It’s almost like theft,” Weintraub said. “I don’t want to see donors tricked.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, said on Thursday that she would introduce legislation to bar campaigns from using prechecked recurring donation boxes.
“We must ensure that people who can only contribute small amounts are empowered to make their voices heard — but that will only happen if Americans trust that campaigns aren’t taking advantage of them through tactics like pre-checked recurring donation boxes,” she said in a statement.