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Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act - Extension of Remarks

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Chair, I rise today to support the DISCLOSE Act, legislation to boost transparency and accountability in U.S. elections.

The January, 5-4 Supreme Court decision in the Citizen's United v. FEC case allows for unprecedented corporate and union influence in our elections, overturning many years of banning these groups from spending their general treasury funds on political expenditures in Federal elections.

With the 2010 election season months away, it is imperative that we not let individual voices be drowned out by billions of dollars in special interest funds. For this reason, I am pleased to have worked with Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on the bill before us today, the DISCLOSE Act.

Critics have argued that this legislation stifles free speech in election advertising, when in reality, under this bill, campaign advertisements will continue as before, only now, we will know who is spending money to air the ad. Opponents have also claimed that the bill gives special treatment to unions over corporations, yet the bill requires the same disclosure for both unions and corporations alike. I believe in protecting the right of every American to know who is behind the advertisements they see every campaign season, and under the disclosure requirements in this bill, they will know this information.

The DISCLOSE Act will require corporations and unions to disclose to the FEC and to the American people who is funding their campaign advertisements; and it also requires a CEO, Union Leader, or leader of any other covered organization, to ``stand by their ad'' and say they approve a campaign message, just like candidates are currently required.

I have worked to ensure all groups that seek to influence the outcome of elections--both unions and corporations--are equally subject to the same disclosure and disclaimer provisions set forth in this bill. As a longtime supporter of strengthening the nation's campaign finance laws, I remain deeply concerned with efforts to carve out exemptions from this requirement for certain groups, and continue to oppose creating loopholes that will weaken them. For this reason, I opposed the Manager's Amendment.

The DISCLOSE Act will help bring greater transparency to political advertising, and I encourage my colleagues to support passage of this important measure.

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