Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman, and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo today released a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finding that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an obligation, under current law, to require the sponsors of all advertisements to be identified, even for political ads.
Originally requested by Leader Pelosi and Congressman Waxman, the GAO report clarifies the power of the FCC to prevent advertisers from misleading consumers and voters, and require disclosure of ad sponsors, so the public knows who is purchasing time on the airwaves and seeking to sway their votes. The report also makes clear that the FCC has already recognized its obligation to protect consumers from straw buyers and instead require the true sponsor to be disclosed.
"It's been said that sunlight is the best disinfectant -- and this report makes clear that the FCC has the power, the authority, and the responsibility to shine a bright light on the organizations and campaigns behind our political advertisements," Leader Pelosi said. "The FCC must simply update its rules to reflect the law, ensuring disclosure in our elections, transparency in our campaigns, and fairness for all voters."
"The American people deserve to know when and by whom they are being persuaded -- and it is the FCC's job to ensure that they do," Congressman Waxman said. "I urge the FCC to take full advantage of the authority already granted by Congress to provide maximum transparency for consumers and voters."
"The 2012 election cycle made it abundantly clear that our electoral system and campaign finance laws are badly in need of reform," Congresswoman Eshoo added. "Where power once originated from the general electorate, that balance has shifted in favor of the enormously wealthy, who can now hide their identity and their political expenditures. It's time for the FCC to play a crucial role in bringing greater transparency to America's electoral system by requiring sponsors of political ads to disclose their true identity, not just their ambiguously-named Super PAC. I welcome the GAO's findings supporting this assertion."