Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2009

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Article summary (how summaries work)

The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 36)requires public disclosure of presidential library contributions of $200 or more. It was introduced in the House on January 6, 2009, and passed on January 7, 2009. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on January 8, 2009.[1]



Donations to presidential libraries are not bound by the same rules that govern contributions to electoral campaigns. There are no limits on the size of donations to presidential libraries, and there is no requirement that presidential library funding organizations publicly disclose the identities of donors. Additionally, presidential libraries can accept contributions from foreign donors.[2] Lawmakers called for more transparency following reports that President Bill Clinton received a $450,000 donation to his library from Denise Rich, the ex-wife of Marc Rich, a man pardoned by Clinton.[2] Other reports of large foreign donations to the libraries of Clinton and President George H.W. Bush also raised concerns among lawmakers.[2] Before leaving office, President George W. Bush said he would be open to accepting foreign donations for the construction of his presidential library at Southern Methodist University and that he would keep those donors secret if they wanted him to do so.[3]


The bill seeks to change the way donations to presidential libraries are reported.[1]

  • Requires presidential library fundraising groups to file quarterly reports disclosing every contribution of $200 or more.
  • Requires the Archivist of the United States to make that information available to the public by creating a searchable database that provides the amount and date of each contribution, the name of the contributor, and if the contributor is an individual, the occupation of the contributor.
  • Establishes criminal penalties for those who knowingly submit false information about contributions or who knowingly omit information about contributions.
  • Applies only to donations made after enactment of legislation.

Bill passage

House action

Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) introduced the bill on January 6, 2009.[1] Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind) predicted strong bipartisan support for the bill, and there was.[4] The House passed the bill without amendment by a 381-31 vote on January 7, 2009.[1] Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported the bill saying, “Americans deserve a government that is open, honest, and accountable to its citizens. Today, we continue our reform efforts by ensuring meaningful and timely access to presidential records and the disclosure of big money donations to presidential libraries.”[5]

Senate action

On January 8, 2009, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.[1]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 OpenCongress’ info page on Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bennett Roth, "Costly libraries increase risk of fundraising scandal" Houston Chronicle, July 21, 2008
  3. Staff Report, "Bush May Take Foreign Money for Presidential Library" The New York Times, February 29, 2008.
  4. Alan K. Ota, House Set to Pass Bill Requiring Disclosure of Donations to Presidential Libraries "CQ Politics," January 6, 2009
  5. Kate Phillips, House Passes Disclosure Bills on Presidential Library Donors, Records,, Janaury 7, 2009

External resources

External articles