Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that the Senate will vote this week on a bill to force super PACs to disclose their donors.
Majority Leader Schumer said on the Senate floor:
Today, I am announcing the Senate will vote this week to take up a measure critical to fighting the cancer of dark money in our elections: the DISCLOSE Act.
I’ve long promised to bring this bill to the floor, and I want to thank all my colleagues, in particular Senator Whitehouse. He has done an amazing job documenting and pressing forward on trying to eliminate the evil scourge of dark money. He has been an amazing leader in championing this legislation.
The DISCLOSE Act is premised on a simple idea: Americans deserve to know who is trying to influence their elections. Sadly, most Americans today are largely in the dark thanks to the abominable decision in Citizens United, handed down by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. Their ruling has paved the way for billions in unlimited campaign contributions by Super PACs and other dark money groups over the last decade. Ordinary citizens, meanwhile, have had their voices drowned out by elites who have millions to spare for political donations.
And the worst part? Much of this spending happens entirely in secret. That’s not like a democracy. It is a veil cast over our democracy that must be ripped away once and for all.
The DISCLOSE Act is simple. It would require super PACs and other dark money groups to report anyone contributing $10,000 or more during an election. It would likewise require groups spending money on judicial nominees to disclose their donors too. There is no justification under heaven for keeping such massive contributions hidden from the public.
This week Republicans are going to have to take a stand on whether they want to fight the power of dark money, or allow this cancer to grow even worse. Limiting the power of dark money shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican view. It should be bipartisan through and through.
I hope Republicans will join us, because Americans intuitively understand that right now there is a stench taking over our campaign finance law.
After all, when was the last time any of us heard voters cheer on the spread of dark money?
When was the last time any of us heard voters say it’s better for billionaires and special interests to buy elections in secret rather than be held accountable to the public?
Of course, they don’t think that! Unless they themselves are the ones cutting the multi-million dollar checks.
So this week, all of us will go on record on whether or not we think Americans deserve to know who is spending billions to sway our democracy. It will be our chance to put into practice the famous saying by Justice Luis Brandeis that ‘sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant.’
I once again commend Senator Whitehouse for his years of leadership in fighting the sway of dark money, and I urge all my colleagues to support this measure this week.
The DISCLOSE Act Highlights An Important Issue
Super PACs are flooding the airwaves with election ads, but voters don’t know who is bankrolling the ads or what the agenda behind them is. The DISCLOSE Act would change that.
Voters would be told if some special interest is trying to swing an election because they would be told who is funding the ads.
Senate Republicans depend on super PAC money more than Democrats, so there is zero chance that ten of them will join with Democrats in voting for the legislation.
However, Democrats are setting the stage for legislation that they will look to pass next year if they keep the Senate and expand their majority to nuke the filibuster.
If Democrats keep the House and Senate, getting rid of Citizens United is on the table.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association