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Posted April 29, 2010 by Meredith McGehee

A Vote Against the DISCLOSE Act is a Vote Against Sunshine

The vast majority of Americans remain justifiably outraged by the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Citizens United – a decision ignoring precedent and unleashing vast corporate and union treasury funds on our elections.  That outrage, confirmed by recent polls, should drive both Democrats and Republicans to support the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) introduced today by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).  Original Senate cosponsors include Russ Feingold (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Evan Bayh (D-IN).  Joining as original cosponsors in the House are Representatives Mike Castle (R-DE), Robert Brady (D-PA) and Walter Jones (R-NC). We especially commend Representatives Castle and Jones for their courage in standing up for what they believe in amidst this hyper-partisan atmosphere in this Congress.

The Schumer-Van Hollen bill will strengthen disclosure provisions, helping voters identify which deep-pocketed entities are spending significant amounts of money to buy access and influence in Washington, often through shadowy groups with patriotic names or through trade associations. 

The U.S. economy is still suffering the economic fallout from politically-influential corporations on Wall Street driving the nation’s economy into a ditch – while some of those corporations are once again reporting huge profits.  The Quinnipiac and Washington Post/ABC polls clearly show that Republicans and Democrats alike are concerned about granting corporations and unions even greater opportunities to buy influence on Capitol Hill. 

If Congress fails to take action in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v FEC, vital information about significant campaign expenditures will be hidden from public view.  A vote against the DISCLOSE Act is a vote to keep citizens in the dark about who is really calling the shots in Washington.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will lead the opposition to this legislation, began to completely mischaracterize the proposal even before he had seen it.  Senator McConnell has a long record of opposition to any and all regulation of special-interest money in politics and he remains a zealous denier of the reality that money buys access and influence in Washington.  The Minority Leader’s caucus would be wise to think twice before blindly following his lead and ignoring public anger with the Citizens United decision.

The DISCLOSE Act will drag the huge political expenditures made by corporations and unions into the light of day and help ensure that citizens know who is spending what to influence the outcomes of decisions in Washington.  With so much at stake and so many policy decisions to be made, every citizen deserves to have the sunlight that this measure will bring into the political process in Washington.

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