Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) joined colleagues in taking an important step to clean up the secret money in politics by cosponsoring the DISCLOSE 2012 Act (H.R. 4010), legislation that requires disclosure of the corporate and special-interest money in elections.
The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC opened the floodgates to unrestricted special-interest campaign spending in American elections -- permitting corporations to spend unlimited funds, directly or through third parties and Political Action Committees, to influence federal elections.
"Special-interest money equals influence, and an important step in curbing that influence is to shine a light on where the money comes from," said Yarmuth, who introduced a Constitutional amendment to mitigate the impact of Citizens United in December. "We are seeing the devastating effects of unlimited secret money in politics right now: an avalanche of negative advertising paid for by a handful of wealthy donors. We have to put a stop to it and restore accountability in our political process."
The DISCLOSE 2012 Act will:
· Require public reporting by corporations, unions, Super PACs and other outside groups to the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours of making a campaign expenditure or transferring funds to other groups for campaign-related activity (of $10,000 or more).
· Require corporations and other outside groups to stand by their campaign ads -- with their leader and top financial contributors disclosed in the ads.
· Require corporations and other outside groups to disclose campaign-related spending to shareholders and organization members.
· Require lobbyists to disclose campaign-related expenditures in conjunction with their lobbying activities.
Republicans blocked this legislation in 2010, and we are already seeing the effects. In the past two years, Super PACs raised approximately $181 million -- with roughly half of it coming from fewer than 200 super-wealthy donors and roughly 20 percent from corporations. The most recent FEC filings show that more than 80 percent of donations to presidential Super PACs have been of $100,000 or more.
In December, Yarmuth introduced a Constitutional amendment establishing that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions do not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment. It also enables Congress to establish a public financing system that would serve as the sole source of funding for federal elections. Keep up with its progress here.
Yarmuth is a longtime supporter of campaign finance reform. He is a cosponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act to establish a public financing system for federal elections. He is also a cosponsor of the Shareholder Protection Act, which directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue rules that require corporations to disclose political contributions to their shareholders.
In 2010, Yarmuth introduced a resolution calling on Congress to mitigate the effects of Citizens United. He also joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting Arizona's public financing system for elections.