U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), along with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, today introduced the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE) Act of 2014. The bill would shine a light on so-called "dark money" by requiring organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding in a timely manner.
"The perfect storm of recent Supreme Court decisions has ushered a flood of dark money into our political system, and it makes the American people question the integrity of our political process and erodes public confidence in Congress and in us as elected officials," Senator King said. "The only way to fix it in the short-term is to require immediate and complete disclosure of contributions so that the American people can see exactly who is trying to influence their vote. This should not be a partisan issue. The very future of our democracy depends on it."
The DISCLOSE Act would require any covered organization that spends $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 24 hours, detailing the amount and nature of each expenditure over $1,000 and the names of all of its donors who gave $10,000 or more. Transfer provisions in the bill prevent donors from using shell organizations to hide their activities.
The legislation, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), is cosponsored by 50 senators, including Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.).
Senator King is a strong advocate for expanding disclosure requirements for campaign contributions in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions, like Citizens United and McCutcheon, which have allowed for a significant increase in dark money contributions to Congressional races. Earlier this year, he introduced the Real Time Transparency Act of 2014, which would require that all campaign contributions of $1000 or more be filed with the FEC within 48-hours. He also chaired a Senate Rules Committee Hearing in April to examine the influence of dark money on U.S. elections and underscore the urgency of expanding disclosure requirements.