“Before Congress can truly meet the challenges of energy and climate change, unemployment, and financial regulation, it must address the perverse incentives that mire each and every one of its members in a perpetual race for private campaign funds.”- Tim Wirth
Our organizations strongly support the DISCLOSE Act introduced today by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. We urge Senators to expeditiously consider and pass this essential legislation.
The organizations include: Americans for Campaign Finance Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,
Common Cause, Democracy 21, Demos, the League of Women Voters, People For the American Way, Public Campaign, Public Citizen and the Sunlight Foundation.
It is a cardinal principle of campaign finance laws that citizens have a basic right to know about the expenditures being made to influence their votes and the donors funding these expenditures.
In the wake of the Citizens United decision, however, more than $135 million in secret contributions were spent to influence the 2010 congressional races. This amount of secret money is expected to greatly increase in the 2012 national elections, absent new disclosure provisions.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly supported the constitutionality and importance of campaign finance disclosure laws. In Citizens United, the Court by an 8 to 1 vote upheld such disclosure laws for outside spending groups stating:
The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.
The Citizens United decision, however, combined with ineffective FEC disclosure regulations to open gaping loopholes in the campaign finance disclosure laws.
The DISCLOSE Act closes these loopholes with effective new disclosure requirements.
Unlike the DISCLOSE Act considered in 2010, the legislation introduced today focuses solely on disclosure provisions. The bill also does not contain any special exceptions for any group. The legislation also fixes the problem of untimely disclosure of donors to Super PACs that surfaced during the 2012 presidential primaries.
Polls show overwhelming public support for disclosure by outside spending groups.
There is no legitimate policy or constitutional grounds on which to oppose the DISCLOSE Act. We strongly urge Senators to support the new DISCLOSE Act and to take all necessary steps to promptly enact the legislation.