Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today opposed a flawed effort to address transparency in campaigns, which forces reporting requirements on some while shielding others from them. A procedural measure to begin debate on the DISCLOSE Act, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 53-45.
"It is unfair to the American people to, on one hand, proclaim to want more transparency in the political process, while allowing others such as international unions to operate anonymously in our national campaigns," Johanns said. "We are wasting valuable time on misguided efforts like these instead of focusing on legislation to rein in our debt, and provide some certainty so our job creators can put people back to work."
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations, nonprofits, and labor unions could use their own general treasury funds to make independent expenditures. The Court ruled in 1958 in NAACP v. Alabama that forcing the disclosure of union members would discourage people from freely associating with a cause or group.
The cases are important because the Court has already ruled efforts such as the DISCLOSE Act violate the First Amendment, and restrictions to the Constitution cannot be enacted through simple legislation. The only course to make changes to the First Amendment, as DISCLOSE Act supporters want, is a constitutional amendment.