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Public Statements

Disclose Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of S. 3369, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections, or DISCLOSE, Act.

I joined Senator Whitehouse and some 25 of my colleagues in cosponsoring this bill because it is the right thing to do. I do not believe, as some claim, that the DISCLOSE Act will chill or limit the right to free speech in something as fundamental as advocating for a candidate for elected office. The bill will simply require more openness by those advocating, an important point in our world of radio, television, and the internet. The DISCLOSE Act will help restore transparency and accountability to our electoral process by requiring outside groups to disclose who funds their political activities. It may be worth noting that the bill is not focusing on the average American contributing small amounts of money to her candidate, but rather on those groups who are making donations of at least $10,000. I do not think it is so onerous to ask those contributing such large sums to identify themselves.

But, I must be honest. I was disappointed to learn that the so-called ``stand by your ad'' provision was not included in S. 3369. This provision, which required that the biggest donors of a campaign, or sponsors of a radio or TV spot, be identified during the ad, was what initially caught my attention. In an age where communications are largely anonymous whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, or to a lesser extent, radio and even television, I believe it is only fair that Americans learn who is speaking to them as they are listening. We have moved past those times when a candidate or his supporters would use a soapbox to explain their positions to a crowd, and who is doing the talking is no longer clear.

However, I believe the overarching principle of the DISCLOSE Act sharing the identities of those advocating in an election campaign, whether it be for or against a candidate, or simply an opinion is a necessary part of democracy. I hope my colleagues will agree and vote to support passage of the DISCLOSE Act.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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