Tonight, the Senate will vote on the simple yet critical measure, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), which would bring out of the shadows most secret money that has been flooding U.S. elections.
The DISCLOSE Act (S. 3369) targets the flood of “dark money” in our electoral system and requires donors to political action committees be disclosed so Americans can learn who is paying for elections. Non-partisan groups like Public Citizen have ramped up pressure on lawmakers and are helping citizens find a voice to do the same.
“This is a call to Congress that Public Citizen has made repeatedly since the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates of secret corporate political money,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “We repeat it again: Open the books on campaign money.”
In the last congressional session, Senate Republicans marched in lock-step with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to filibuster the DISCLOSE Act to death. The measure, whose full name is the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act, fell short of the 60-vote supermajority required to break the filibuster by one vote. Not a single Republican senator voted for disclosure – not even those senators who previously had supported full transparency.
McConnell is on record opposing any disclosure of donors to outside political groups and is whipping his colleagues in the Senate to kill the DISCLOSE Act again.
“The public needs to pay attention to which side their senators choose,” said Lisa Gilbert, acting director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The vote on the DISCLOSE Act is a clear and simple choice. We will be watching to see which senators support transparency of money in politics and which prefer keeping the flow of campaign cash secret and under the table.”
The DISCLOSE Act is an important first step in grabbing control of our electoral process from corporate interests. And Republicans may have blocked the bill initially, but this is a bi-partisan problem and tonight’s vote could be a step toward a bi-partisan solution.
Photo from bfishadow via flickr.