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Posts Tagged ‘DISCLOSE Act’

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $718 million: Total amount spent by all presidential candidates in 2004
  • $745 million: Amount President Barack Obama spent to get elected in 2008 – a new record
  • $1 billion: Amount Obama is expected to raise and spend on his 2012 re-election campaign
  • $1.3 billion: Total amount spent by all presidential candidates in 2008

Republicans reap benefits of being in power
Just before the midterm elections, when it was pretty clear that Republicans would be taking over the House of Representatives, industry interests lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawmakers slated to be chairs of influential committees. These include committees overseeing tax policy, energy matters and the implementation of the new health care law. “People bet on winners,” Craig Holman, money and politics expert at Public Citizen, told USA Today. (more…)

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Tea Party protestersTea Party members who want to punish corporations for supporting the policies of President Obama or congressional Democrats should demand that their senators pass the DISCLOSE Act (S.3628).

That’s the conclusion I came to after reading Paul Bedard’s Washington Whispers column in today’s U.S. News & World Report.

Bedard’s piece offers some interesting speculation by Tea Party organizers about upcoming campaigns to punish corporations that supported “President Obama’s progressive agenda.”

But Bedard doesn’t mention that the eager Tea Partiers will have no way to know which corporations to target, since so many corporations secretly give money to Big Business’ lobbying heavyweight, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and let it do the dirty work. (more…)

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Public Citizen President Robert Weissman (left) and Common Cause President Bob Edgar at a news conference at the Capitol calling for the U.S. Senate to pass a pared-down version of the DISCLOSE Act.

The amount of information available to voters about who was behind attack ads during the midterms was dramatically less than in previous years, a new Public Citizen study shows.

The study was released at a press conference held today by six good government groups who called on the U.S. Senate to pass a stripped-down version of the DISCLOSE Act focused solely on disclosure.

Of the 10 top spending groups in the 2010 cycle, accounting for 52 percent of all spending in the elections, only three provided any information about their funders, Public Citizen found. These groups disclosed the sources of only one in four dollars they spent on the 2010 elections.

Groups not disclosing any information about their funders (more…)

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E.J. Dionne Jr. in the WaPo says that if the lame duck Congress has a spine, it would reconsider the DISCLOSE Act in the final days of its term. The DISCLOSE Act would make the outside groups that are raising money for “independent” political ads disclose who is paying for the ads. As we saw this past election, corporations and wealthy donors can give anonymously to these front groups and unions and avoid accountability to voters. Dionne writes:

Shortly after the election, Michael Isikoff and Rich Gardella of NBC News reported that one of the big Republican secret-money groups, Crossroads GPS, got “a substantial portion” of its money “from a small circle of extremely wealthy Wall Street hedge fund and private equity moguls.” These contributors “have been bitterly opposed to a proposal by congressional Democrats – and endorsed by the Obama administration – to increase the tax rates on compensation that hedge funds pay their partners.”

It shouldn’t take investigative reporting after the fact for voters to learn such things. [Sens.] Snowe, Collins and Brown say they are for disclosure, as does Mark Kirk, the new Republican senator from Illinois. Senate Democratic leaders should give them a chance to prove it by bringing up the bill.

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Holman

Today, every single Republican senator marched in lockstep with the GOP leadership to keep the funding sources of independent campaign ads secret from the public. In a party-line vote, the minority Republican caucus once again employed the filibuster to stop a floor vote on the DISCLOSE Act (S. 3295) – effectively casting a cloak over money in politics through the 2012 elections.

Precisely when disclosure is most important – at the time in which the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed unlimited corporate money to flood our elections – we no longer have a meaningful disclosure law in place. Corporate money is flowing into our elections at record levels, but a Public Citizen study shows that very little of this money is being disclosed to the public.

The Republican filibuster is a travesty for our nation. Republicans firmly believe that the banks and the insurance industry are going to bankroll a GOP majority into Congress this year and perhaps take the White House in 2012 – so long as they don’t have to tell voters who is paying for their election and what those special interests want in return.

Senate Republicans today succeeded in concealing most of this new corporate money flowing into politics. The question now becomes: Will their stealth funders get what they paid for?

Craig Holman is the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.

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With several pieces of high-stakes legislation before Congress during this brief session, Public Citizen activists are pulling out all the stops with emails and calls urging their public servants to pass critical good government and worker safety laws.

Activists turned up the pressure on moderate Republican senators to vote for the DISCLOSE Act, a bill designed to combat some effects of Citizens United v. FEC.

The activists left dozens of comments to report back after calling Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The Supreme Court decision gave corporations the power to spend as much as they want to influence elections, and most of this money undisclosed. Instead, it’s being funneled through groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. (Our new report details this alarming lack of transparency.)

The DISCLOSE Act – which we believe is just one vote short of the 60 needed to break the Republican filibuster – would provide full disclosure of corporate, union and wealthy funding sources behind political advertising, extends the disclosure window to cover most of an election period, and tightens restrictions on political ads by government contractors and foreign entities.

The Fair Elections Now Act, another bill that would seriously mitigate the effects of Citizens United v. FEC, is coming up for a vote tomorrow by the House Administration Committee.

Ahead of this vote, activists called and emailed their Representatives in the House, urging them to fix the our system of financing congressional elections so that public servants answer to the people, not corporations and other wealthy special interests alone. (more…)

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Note: Today, the U.S. Senate is reconsidering passage of the DISCLOSE Act (S. 3295). The measure was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in July but has stalled in the Senate in the face of a Republican filibuster. In July, all Republican senators marched in lockstep with the party leadership and refused to allow a vote on the bill.

The Republican filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act is a travesty and a betrayal of the professed principles of many individual senators. Several Senate Republicans have a long history of supporting transparency when it comes to money in politics. The issue is not whether there is a Republican senator who supports disclosure – there are plenty – but whether one or more of these senators is willing to stand for this principle against the wishes of party leaders.

A recent study by Public Citizen shows that more than two-thirds of independent political groups are refusing to disclose their funding sources for electioneering communications for this election cycle. Precisely when disclosure is most important – at the time in which the U.S. Supreme Court has unleashed unlimited corporate money flooding our elections – we no longer have a meaningful disclosure law in place. The DISCLOSE Act closes the gaping loopholes in current disclosure laws that allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to hide their campaign spending by funneling their money through innocuous-sounding front groups.

Public Citizen calls upon those senators who believe in openness to stand true to their principles, end the filibuster and bring all this new special interest money out of the shadows.

Read the letter Public Citizen sent today to the U.S. Senate.

Craig Holman is the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.

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The New York Times provided readers with yet another reason to support a campaign finance disclosure act today. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, groups registered as 501(c)(4) nonprofits are able to funnel millions of dollars into political campaigns without ever naming any of their primary contributors.

Though federal law says that more than 50 percent of a 501(c)(4)’s activities cannot be political, groups such as Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (which Karl Rove has helped raise money for) can side step this requirement thanks to their ability to keep donor names secret.

In 2004 and 2006, virtually all independent groups receiving electioneering donations revealed their donors. In 2008, less than half of the groups reported their donors, according to a study we released earlier this month.

The Times also stated most privately held corporations are advertising for Republican candidates through 501(c) organizations instead of directly sponsoring advertisements themselves.

Regulating these groups through the IRS is unlikely and difficult. Most of these groups are “not required to seek the agency’s approval until they file their first tax forms more than a year after they begin activity.” This means the IRS. won’t even know they exist.

The Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision allowed for a flood of corporate spending into campaigns; The DISCLOSE Act, which would require groups paying for political ads to identify their donors, may be the best way to regulate this, short of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Without having to identify donors, political groups disguised as nonprofits will continue to play a major role in upcoming elections.

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The folks over at the Center for Competitive Politics, a right-wing think tank, must think corporate front groups who run campaign ads are totally awesome.

They just issued a poll that they claim demonstrates public opposition to the DISCLOSE Act – even though their own numbers actually demonstrate broad public support for disclosure!

Jesse Zwick over at the Washington Independent skewers the poll – scarily titled, “Voters skeptical of intrusive disclosure.” (more…)

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In today’s WaPo, columnist E.J. Dionne says that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited funds in elections, was either “the most Machiavellian in American history or the most naive” decision the high court has made.

In Citizens United, the court’s “5 to 4 conservative majority broke with decades of precedent and said Congress had no right to ban corporate or labor union spending to influence the outcome of elections,” Dionne said. “The decision is Machiavellian if (more…)

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