Today, Congressman Scott Murphy (NY-20) helped pass the DISCLOSE Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure that elections are not manipulated by corporate, foreign or special interests. After the Supreme Court decided Citizens United, legislative action was necessary to ensure that large corporations and special interests groups were not able to drown out the voices of the public by spending unlimited amounts of money on elections. The DISCLOSE Act will bring transparency to campaign finance and ensure that elections are controlled by the people, not by foreign corporations and special interest groups.
"We must ensure that our democratic process is not overtaken by large corporations or foreign interests," said Rep. Murphy. "This legislation will protect the voice of the people and ensure that secret groups cannot try to buy elections. By promoting openness and transparency in government and our political process, we can begin to restore people's faith in the system. The DISCLOSE Act will return power to the people and ensure that these groups do not try to buy elections. This is about strengthening political spending disclosure laws to ensure Americans can see how corporations or other organizations are spending money to influence elections."
Former Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA), the original House authors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), released a statement in support of the DISCLOSE Act:
When we led the successful effort in the House to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the one reform that everyone could agree on, even the opponents of our legislation, was the need for public disclosure of campaign finance contributions and expenditures. There has been a national consensus for decades in support of campaign finance disclosure. In striking down the ban on corporate and union spending in federal campaigns, the Supreme Court in Citizens United by an 8 to 1 vote held that disclosure of these expenditures was constitutional and appropriate. Voters have a fundamental right to know who is spending money to influence their elections and where that money is coming from. With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by corporations and labor unions to influence elections, secrecy about these expenditures is simply unacceptable.
Trevor Potter, Republican FEC Commissioner from 1991-1995 and the president of the Campaign Legal Center:
The bill's point is not needless disclosure of small donors but to capture the large money behind independent campaign advertising. Based on the legislative language's equality of treatment, claims of union favoritism seem to be unsupported efforts to discredit the bill and stave off its primary goal: disclosure of those underwriting the massive independent expenditure campaigns that are coming to dominate our elections. [6/22/10]
Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen
We strongly urge you to vote for H.R. 5175 and the Manager's Amendment that accompanies the legislation, and to oppose any amendments to the bill that would weaken, undermine or gut the legislation.
Elisabeth MacNamara, President, League of Women Voters (LWV)
In its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for big-money special interests in our elections. Corporations and unions can now make unlimited secret expenditures seeking to elect or defeat candidates. This is unacceptable in a democracy.
The most important thing we can do to preserve the integrity of our electoral process is to increase transparency and let the sunlight shine in. Disclosure of corporate and union spending in our elections is the key to allowing voters to make their decisions. This bill accomplishes that fundamental purpose.
This critical bipartisan campaign finance legislation is fair and equitable. It ensures voters can make informed decisions. The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to vote for the DISCLOSE Act.
Fred Wertheimer, President, Democracy 21
The DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175) provides Congress with the opportunity to mitigate the destructive impact of the Citizens United decision which has opened the door for corporations, labor unions, and other groups to flood federal elections and buy influence over government decisions with unlimited campaign expenditures.
At stake here is the constitutional right of voters to know the identity of the organizations spending money to influence their federal elections and the sources of the funds they are spending.
The choice here for Representatives comes down to the following: vote to pass the bill and thereby to provide citizens with critically important information about the money being spent to influence their elections, or vote to kill the bill because of the narrow exemption in the legislation deemed necessary by Members to pass the House.
Democracy 21 urges members to support the public's right to know.
Meredith McGehee, Policy Director, Campaign Legal Center
The core provisions of the DISCLOSE Act are important enough to get this bill through the House and on to the Senate expeditiously where we hope it will pass this summer. Without the core provisions of the DISCLOSE Act in place, this fall the public will remain in the dark about millions of dollars being spent to determine who will lead this nation
The DISCLOSE Act, even with the fix, is being mischaracterized by opponents. At its core, it is about ensuring that voters know who or what is behind the high-priced ad campaigns attacking or praising the candidates whose names will be on the ballot.
It's time for the House to pass H.R. 5175 with the manager's amendment. Further delay only serves to empower those who wish to conceal their big, influence-buying checks and political clout behind the political ads run by organizations with patriotic names and ulterior motives.
Melanie Sloan, Executive Director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
CREW believes it imperative that the Congress pass legislation as soon as possible to respond to the Supreme Court's misguided decision in Citizens United, which allows unlimited independent expenditures by corporations in support or opposition to political candidates.
CREW urges you to schedule a vote on the DISCLOSE Act as soon as possible to help ensure that our elections are not hijacked by corporations whose agendas may not mirror the best interests of the American people.