House Democrats filed a discharge petition to have the DISCLOSE 2012 Act brought to the House floor for full consideration. House Republicans have continued to ignore Democratic pressure to hold a single hearing on the corrupting influence of secret money in elections. The bill, authored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, would vastly improve the transparency of our elections by requiring campaign funding disclosure by Super PACS, corporations, outside groups, and lobbyists. Corporations would have to disclose their campaign expenditures to their shareholders and all groups would have to stand by their political advertisements.
"It's unfortunate, and frankly embarrassing, that we've had to file this petition in order to have this bill considered. We've demanded Committee action, but our voices have fallen on deaf ears," said House Administration Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA). "The American people have a right to free and uncorrupted elections. Disclosing who is financing these elections is an essential part of that right. Republicans used to say disclosure was essential. They have voted for pro-disclosure bills and encouraged us to hold hearings on this matter in the past. Now, when secret groups are outspending candidates to influence elections, they have refused to even discuss the problem. I applaud my friend, Chris Van Hollen, for his effort to bring this bill to floor and hope that the Republicans will give the legislation prompt consideration."
Under the Democratic Majority in 2010, the first DISCLOSE Act was passed in the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate, falling one vote short to end a filibuster. The bill seeks to restore the American people's trust in our elections process in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. According to recent polling, more than three-quarters of voters think that campaign finance reform is a key issue for the country, and a majority believes secret money plays too great a role in campaigns.
Since the Citizens United ruling, an estimated $135 million in secret money was funneled into congressional campaigns alone. Two years removed from that ruling, we are seeing the emergence of powerful candidate-specific Super PACs. With only a wink and nod to laws requiring no coordination, Super PACs are currently able to spend unlimited sums of money, collected from the deep pockets of secret donors, outside groups, and corporations. Many of these groups have no obligation to disclose their donors.