Senators Offer Legislative Response to Citizens United Decision

Today, Senators introduced the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act

According to a press release from Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy’s (D-VT) office, this bill responds to the “Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, in which five Justices overturned decades of campaign finance law, as well as the Court’s own precedent.”

The release says this bill will:

  • Prevent foreign influence by banning corporations under the direction or control of a foreign entity from spending in U.S. elections
  • Enhance disclaimers to identify sponsors of political ads, making CEOs and other leaders responsible for advertising they fund
  • Enhance disclosures by requiring organizations to disclose to the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours not just spending on campaign related activity, but also transfers of money to other groups which can then be used for campaign-related activity
  • Mandates disclosure of political spending by corporations, unions, and other groups to their shareholders and members in their annual and periodic reports
  • Prevents government contractors with contracts worth more than $50,000 from spending money on elections.
  • Requires that candidates and political parties are given the lowest unit rate in television markets to prevent special interests from drowning out other voices in the election
  • Tightens rules to ban coordination between candidates and outside groups on advertisements that reference a candidate beginning 90 days before a primary through the general election

The legislation is “expected to advance through the Senate Rules Committee, which is chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the lead sponsor of the legislation.”

The Hill reports that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “has pledged to bring new campaign finance legislation to the Senate floor before July 4.”

Update: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has issued a statement on this bill.

“It should be beyond suspicious when the man in charge of electing Democrats in the House teams up with the man who held the same job in the Senate to tell Americans how they can express themselves in an election.  Make no mistake about it, the campaign finance bill introduced this morning is not about reform, transparency, accountability or good government. It is about election advantage plain and simple.  An effort to disregard the First Amendment and defy the Supreme Court in order to limit the speech of those who may disagree with you is an effort that has no place in this country.”

(credit image – getty)

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