Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act

By:  Patrick Murphy
Date: June 24, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I am happy that we are addressing campaign finance reform in this session of Congress by taking up the DISCLOSE Act today. This bill goes a long way toward increasing transparency in campaign spending by forcing individuals and organizations to stand by their television and radio ads that they fund.

I would like to thank my colleagues Mr. Van Hollen, Mr. Castle, Mr. Jones, and especially Chairman Bob Brady for their hard work on this important and critical piece of legislation.

By making funders identify themselves in ads, the DISCLOSE Act takes a significant step in giving people the information they need to understand who is funding the ad. Mr. Chairman, shouldn't people know where these ads and the money to fund them are coming from?

Let me give you an example:

If Halliburton pays for an ad endorsing a politician, shouldn't the voters know that not only is the company paying for the ad but also that it is based in Houston, Texas? People have a right to know if people or companies outside their States are trying to influence their elections.

My amendment, Mr. Chairman, is a commonsense addition that both Republicans and Democrats should support. Whether they are living in Bristol, Pennsylvania, or in Bristol, Tennessee, people should know who is trying to impact their votes.

This amendment is very simple. It enhances the ad disclaimers by including the location of the funder. Specifically, this amendment requires that the city and the State of the funder's residence or principal place of business be included in the disclaimers. It also requires this location information be added to the Top Funders list that will appear on screen, at the end of the ad, under the bill. These simple additions will give people valuable information about the people and organizations funding the ads they are seeing and hearing.

By knowing where the money is coming from, people will have a better understanding of who the funder is and the motivations behind an ad. This is not a Democratic or a Republican idea. All citizens deserve to know if a special interest completely unrelated to their districts and to the issues that affect their daily lives is trying to influence their elections.

I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, first, your location in your campaign ad takes less than 2 seconds. In that time, voters get valuable information about any special interests which are trying to influence their votes. Second, if the ad is short and if timing is an issue, funders may be able to get a hardship exemption which makes sure that there is always time for the substantive message in their ads.

Mr. Chairman, quite simply, a vote to oppose the Murphy amendment will be a vote to keep your constituents in the dark about the sources of their campaign spending. Campaign ads can now be funded from unlimited corporate sources. At the very least, we must give people the facts that they need about these ads and about the special interests that are sometimes behind them.

This amendment is a critical edition to the DISCLOSE Act because it does exactly that--it provides people with a key piece of information about the source of the ad. Knowing whether the ads are promoting an interest in the voter's own district or State will allow voters to better evaluate those ads and make informed decisions when they go to the polling place. The more information that's available, the more transparent and fair all elections will be, and I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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