WASHINGTON — Democrats plan to draw a contrast with Republicans on the issue of disclosing so-called “black money” in elections this week, in a Senate vote Wednesday known as the Disclosure Act. Is known.
It will be the first time in 10 years that the Senate will vote on a campaign finance proposal originally introduced in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Dr.I.), would require all groups to spend money in elections or to disclose donations of $10,000 or more in support or opposition to a judicial candidate.
Republicans previously filed the bill three times — most recently in 2012. He is expected to do it again this time.
So why is a campaign finance disclosure bill getting precious floor time ahead of the November 8 election while other legislative proposals – antitrust, Electoral Counting Act reform and same-sex marriage protection – wait their turn? The answer is simple: it is good politics.
“It turns out the press missed a message,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told HuffPost. “It’s one of these questions when there’s a vote, it’s overwhelming. People are sick of these campaigns and how much money is being spent. And now, Leonard Leo crossed the campaign Rubicon with a billion dollar effort It’s completely out of hand. And so it’s a bigger issue than you think. It’s a hot issue in elections.”
“It shows this is a priority for Democrats,” Adam Bozzi, a spokesman for End Citizen United, a PAC affiliated with the Democratic Party that advocates for campaign finance reforms, said in an email. “It is both good policy and good politics.”
President Joe Biden also delivered a prepared speech in support of the Disclosure Act on Tuesday, another sign that Democrats see the issue as good politics ahead of the midterms.
“Black money has become so common in our elections and I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Biden said at the White House. A famous line from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis In support of transparency.
Recent polls show that the corrosive effect of money in politics remains a major concern for Americans. Seventy-two percent of Americans said democracy is at risk CBS/YouGov poll at the end of August, “The effect of money in politics” tops the list of such concerns, with 86% of people feeling that democracy is in danger.
Threats to democracy also emerged as top issue of concern An NBC News poll Released on September 18, however, when he was provided with an open question to explain what the threats meant to him, Democratic respondents mostly responded to Donald Trump’s ongoing efforts to make the election illegal.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Democrats view the corrupting influence of money in politics as an issue that excites their base and has strong cross-partisan appeal. That’s a big part of the reason it combined campaign finance reform, including the Disclosure Act, with the voting rights in its top messaging bill, the For the People Act, in both 2019 and 2021. And they and their affiliated outside groups are making it one. issue in mid-term elections
The Senate Majority PAC, the leader of the Democratic Senate Super PAC, raised $1.9 million. Partnered with For & Citizen United buy ad Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on September 16, tying contributions from the oil and gas industry to rising gas costs. In the House race, the Democrats’ leading Super PACs have already delivered ads knocking Republicans on issues related to campaign money in the race. I And Michigan,
,The result of this vote will be and [End Citizens United] Will work to make sure they are realized,” Bozzi said.
However, Republicans are both opposed to the disclosure bill and are puzzled as to why Democrats are voting for it.
,I think they were looking for stink bomb votes going into an election that they think would put Republicans on the defense, but I don’t think it really deserved it,” said Sen. John Thune (RSD), No. .3 Republicans in the Senate, told HuffPost. “It’s a really vague issue.”
Current campaign finance disclosure rules require candidate and party committees, PACs and super PACs, and 527 nonprofit groups to disclose their donors, but not under section 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) Do not include donations to nonprofits organized under tax codes when they spend money explicitly advocating for the election or defeat of a federal election candidate.
This lack of disclosure emerged as an issue when a Supreme Court ruling at Citizens United freed other groups, including corporations, unions and some non-profit groups, to receive and spend unlimited amounts of money on electoral efforts. Following the decision, undisclosed election spending by nonprofits, known as “black money”, increased north of $100 million in each of the last five elections.
Democrats introduced the Disclosure Act in 2010 in immediate response to the court’s decision, but it twice failed to clear GOP filibusters by votes of 57–41 and 59–39. The last time it came to the vote in 2012, it again failed to reach the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster by a vote of 53–45. Most recently, Republicans blocked a unanimous consent request to pass the bill in 2021.
A major change to the Disclosure Act since it was last voted in 2012 is the expansion of disclosure requirements for spending groups on judicial nominations. It was added to the bill by the Whitehouse In response to multi-million dollar campaigns run by conservative groups Joined by Federalist Society co-founder Leonard Leo, who assisted in the GOP blockade of 2016 nominee Merrick Garland and promoted the nominations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Connie Barrett.
Leo, the architect of the GOP’s takeover of the Supreme Court, has since made news. publica and Liver News reported That the group he runs received a donation of $1.6 billion from an obscure conservative donor—a donation that would otherwise be unknown absent ProPublica reports.
While black money spending on elections was initially dominated by Republican-affiliated groups, thanks in large part to the massive spending of Democratic-affiliated groups, billionaire fossil fuel titans Charles and David Koch and the late casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. has since led in the last two election cycles,
Despite this new advantage, there are no Republican lawmakers who support legislation to mandate disclosure for this type of campaign spending, which Biden made a point to note.
“I accept that this is an issue for both sides,” Biden said, “but here’s the key difference: Democrats in Congress tend to favor greater openness and accountability. Republicans in Congress, not so far. I hope so.” that they will come around.”