Senate Dems float campaign finance bill
Senate Democrats reintroduced transparency regulation on Tuesday that would rein in the ability of donors to give anonymously as part of an election year messaging broadside around campaign finance reform.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) resubmitted a version of the DISCLOSE Act that would require all organizations that spend $10,000 or more on election ads to publicly identify all their donors.
The legislation would also end the use of 501(c)4 and 501(c)6 nonprofit groups as vehicles for anonymous political spending — something that has become increasingly common in recent years as big donors look for ways to spend big money on politics without leaving a paper trail.
It’s part of a major focus by Democrats and their allies on the issue of campaign finance in the run-up to the midterm elections — painting Republicans as in the pocket of big donors and corporate interests.
“The Supreme Court has determined that billionaires should have a louder voice in elections than everyone else,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “The Supreme Court is wrong.”
Warren said that the solution to overturning the Supreme Court’s major campaign finance rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC will come in the form of a constitutional amendment — something that Democrats have also proposed this cycle.
But, she noted “even this Supreme Court has said disclose, disclose, disclose.” Majorities in both decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon affirmed that disclosure of donors was beneficial and legal.
Billionaire GOP donors Charles and David Koch have become particular targets of Democratic ire — as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made them the focus of floor speeches and testimony in front of congressional committees.
He most recently declared the two brothers as leaders of a money-in-politics cult. “Instead of being a religious movement or a secret sect, this is a cult of money, influence and self-serving politics,” Reid said recently. “This is the cult of Koch.”
But the Kochs are not the only big anonymous spenders on politics. Major liberal donors organized under the umbrella of the Democracy Alliance have increasingly become an important part of the Democratic money network.
Asked about the increasing involvement of Democratic donors in anonymous money groups, Whitehouse said the proposed rules should apply to everyone — but that liberals and Democrats shouldn’t play by separate rules in today’s environment.
“When the corporate bullhorn drowns out the voices of the average voter with attack ads, it is harder — not easier — to have a truly free exchange of ideas,” Whitehouse told reporters. “I think everybody should follow as much transparency as possible.”
He added: “In the meantime, if we unilaterally disarm, then the victory will have been achieved by the other side.”
By: Byron Tau
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