As a co-founder of TVW--Washington State's public affairs network--and winner of the prestigious James Madison award for open government, Denny is committed to keeping our government accountable to voters and making sure ideas decide elections -- not corporate money.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in undisclosed, anonymous money will be spent by corporations and special interests to influence your vote this year. Much of this money would have been illegal a few years ago and still should be today. Denny supports a constitutional amendment to reinstate limits on corporate and individual campaign expenditures struck down by the Supreme Court in 2010.
Until such an amendment can be passed, Denny supports enacting the DISCLOSE Act. DISCLOSE would overturn the worst parts of Citizens United -- the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates of unlimited, anonymous, and corporate money into our elections by enhancing campaign finance disclosure laws and requiring more disclaimers on campaign ads.
A History of Keeping Our State Government Accountable
In 1993 Denny co-founded TVW, Washington State's public affairs network and then served as its first CEO for many years. Denny felt that Washingtonians deserved more access to their state government. He also felt that policy makers deserved to be more accountable to the voters who elected them.
Many politicians in state government resisted TVW at first. Denny worked hard with his friend Stan Marshburn and with retired Senate Republican leader Jeannette Hayner to forge a bipartisan coalition in favor of creating the network. By 1993 they were successful and TVW went on the air.
For the next 8 years Denny served as President and CEO of TVW. While at TVW he hosted Inside Olympia and put Washington State's major policymakers on the record when it came to the tough questions of the day. He also won an Emmy for a documentary he wrote and directed. Government accountability is important to Denny. His career shows it.
Restoring Sanity to Our Federal Elections
In 2010 the Supreme Court handed down two deeply flawed decisions -- Citizens United vs. FEC and SpeechNOW.org vs. FEC -- that radically altered how much money can be spent on federal elections.
Citizens United declared that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money through "superPACs" so long as there isn't any coordination with candidates the superPACs are supporting. The coordination rules are poorly defined and easy to skirt.
SpeechNOW.org declared that individuals can also spend unlimited amounts of money through superPACs under the same rules outlined in the Citizens United ruling.
These two decisions have given corporations and the special interests an extraordinarily large amount of influence over our federal elections and, potentially, over our federal officeholders. It is safe to say the outsized role of anonymous money seen in the Republican primaries this year will pale in comparison to the growing role it will play in future elections if Congress does not take action.
A constitutional amendment is needed to restore the previously established limits on corporate and individual spending. Congress needs to be explicitly granted the power to:
Regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with regards to federal elections.
Set limits on the amount that can be contributed to candidates for federal offices.
Set limits on the amount of expenditures that can be made by, in support of, or in opposition to candidates for federal office.
This amendment has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate and has already received dozens of co-sponsors.
Passing the DISCLOSE Act
At a minimum, voters deserve to know where all this new money is coming from. Congress needs to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which:
Outlaws superPACs from accepting money from foreign sources.
Requires CEOs to appear in and "approve" corporate-funded superPAC ads just as candidates are required to do in their own ads.
Enhances disclosure requirements for superPACs.
Requires corporations to disclose to shareholders any spending on federal elections by the corporation.
Prohibits corporations with government contracts from spending money on federal elections.
Tightens the rules regarding coordination between candidates and superPACs
The U.S. House passed the DISCLOSE Act in 2010, but the Senate did not take up the bill. Representative Chris Van Hollen has reintroduced DISCLOSE this congress. This commonsense legislation needs to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President immediately. The integrity of our democracy is at stake.