Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, by 219-206. As a sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Mike Castle voted in favor of the bill to create new rules of disclosure for political advertisements that attempt to persuade voters. The base bill was written to apply evenly to any corporation, union or organization intending to influence an election outcome. In addition, the bill would prohibit foreign-owned companies, large government contractors and TARP recipients from running ads in American elections. During consideration in the House, the bill was amended to exempt certain large non-profit organizations; however, Congressman Castle opposed any effort to weaken the legislation and opposed the amendment.
"Political advertisements attempt to influence voters and Americans deserve to know who is paying for those ads," said Rep Castle. "The DISCLOSE Act requires that this information be made public, just as candidates are required to take responsibility for a campaign advertisement. Most opponents of the bill would prefer that the legislation protect those groups that are likely to favor and support them during election season. I believe that all groups should be treated equally under the new disclosure requirements and I voted against the effort to carve out certain large, non-profit organizations from the bill. As the bill moves through the Senate, I would like to see a clean bill which applies equally to all corporations, organizations and unions, in order to put voter's interests ahead of political favoritism."
Summary of H.R. 5175
* Requires corporations and unions alike to disclose to the FEC the major donors for each expenditure of $10,000 or more.
* Covered organizations would also have to post these disclosures on their website and in their periodic financial reports to the organization's members.
* Requires the CEO of a corporation, the head of a union, or leader of any other covered organization, to "stand by their ad" and approve a campaign message, just as candidates are currently required to do.
* To ensure that these groups do not simply funnel their money through other shell organizations, the top donor must appear, and the top five donors must be listed in these campaign advertisements.
* Prohibits political expenditures by TARP recipients, Government Contractors, and foreign companies.