Posts Tagged ‘McCain-Feingold’

Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s expert on lobbying and ethics, says that the GOP decision to block debate on the DISCLOSE Act will have serious ramifications on the November elections. Mainly, it will prevent the public from knowing who is paying for the campaign ads that will soon flood the airwaves.

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It was not long ago that Republican congressional leaders embraced “transparency” as their mantra on how to address the potentially corrupting influence of money in politics. That was then, welcome to now.

Echoing the sentiments of all but two Republicans in the House who voted against the DISCLOSE Act, Cleta Mitchell, legal counsel for some of these members, declared: “…the Disclose Act would impose onerous and complicated ‘disclosure’ restrictions on organizations that dare to engage in constitutionally protected political speech and on corporations that dare to contribute to such organizations.”

The DISCLOSE Act (S. 3295), sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), is a legislative response to the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision that allows unlimited corporate and union spending in federal, state and local elections. The legislation would close a gaping loophole in the campaign finance disclosure system. Under existing law, groups that pay for independent expenditures need not disclose their major donors. Most corporations are not likely to (more…)

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For those of you keeping score at home, it’s now Citizens United 2, Democracy 0. The Federal Election Commission voted 4-1 Thursday to give Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group based in Virginia, an exemption to campaign finance requirements. If you remember, in January, Citizens United won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that gave corporations the right to spend an unlimited amount of money to influence our elections.

However, that court victory came with an *asterisk. Citizens United, and other corporations, could spend the dough but they would still have to disclose where their money was coming from i.e. the names of its donors, and how it was spending its money. As I blogged in April, Citizens United argued that since it produced “documentary” films, it should be considered a media company and exempt from disclosure requirements. This is the case for companies such as the New York Times, Washington Post and FOX News etc, which can produce opinion pieces about candidates and issues without having to fill out campaign finance forms.

SCOTUSblog has more about the FEC’s decision.

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