Democrats raid presidential campaign fund in controversial move

 March 31, 2024

Congress quietly diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from the largely dormant Presidential Election Campaign Fund to bolster the United States Secret Service and provide grants for election security.

According to Raw Story, the reallocation of funds from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund was embedded in Congress' latest government funding package, signed into law by President Joe Biden last week.

The details

The specifics of who in Congress inserted the language into the 1,012-page bill to tap into the fund's resources amounting to $375 million remain unconfirmed.

The Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which once financed White House hopefuls' campaigns from the 1970s to late 2000s, will now allocate $320 million to the Secret Service and $55 million for election security grants.

The $320 million will support the "operations and support" of the U.S. Secret Service, according to the legislation, offering last-minute funding to major government departments until September.

The Secret Service, tasked with safeguarding the president, vice president, and foreign dignitaries, among others, can utilize the funds for various purposes, including vehicle acquisitions, overtime compensation, and travel arrangements.

Recent developments

Former President Donald Trump's rallies have notably burdened local law enforcement with costs, as he has declined to reimburse them. The Secret Service previously cited its lack of congressional funding to reimburse municipal governments for these expenses.

The $55 million earmarked for "election security grants" will be disbursed to states within 45 days by the Election Assistance Commission to "enhance the administration of elections for Federal office, including upgrading election technology and implementing election security enhancements," the bill specified.

The Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency, has faced funding challenges since 2018. These funds have been vital for states to upgrade voting equipment, establish cybersecurity training initiatives, enhance physical security for election officials, and combat misinformation.

More investigation needed

Despite the diminished federal funding, Benjamin Hovland, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, emphasized the importance of continued investment in election security and administration.

As of February 28, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund had a balance of over $404 million, according to U.S. Treasury figures. The Federal Election Commission has yet to approve matching funds for any 2024 presidential candidates.

The Presidential Election Campaign Fund became obsolete after then-candidate Barack Obama declined to utilize it during the 2008 presidential election. His decision to opt-out of the fund, which provided public financing to candidates but imposed fundraising restrictions, contributed to its diminished relevance.

More attention is expected to focus on the new report as Trump and Biden battle for leadership of the nation in the weeks ahead.

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