SCHUMER HOLDS SENATE
RULES COMMITTEE HEARING ON NEW VERSION OF DISCLOSE ACT
April 6, 2012
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee,
convened a hearing on S. 2219, the DISCLOSE Act of 2012. The bill is a
new legislative effort to blunt the Supreme Court’s Citizens United
decision which allowed corporations and anonymous special interests to
spend unlimited sums to influence elections.
At the hearing, experts in the field of campaign finance reform
addressed the ways in which campaign fundraising and spending has
changed since Citizens United and analyze how the proposed legislation
can help rectify the situation.
Already in 2012, outside groups have spent $90 million influencing
elections, and many can raise funds in unlimited amounts and not fully
disclose their donors.
“Unlimited, secret, special interest money in elections is corroding our
democracy and it must be stopped. There is a simple solution which I
believe everyone can support - increased transparency,” said Schumer.
“The only way to know who is behind the avalanche of political
advertisements is to require full disclosure and disclaimer of donors.”
Last week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)—joined by Tom Udall (D-NM),
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Al
Franken (D-MN) and Schumer—introduced the new legislation, which is
narrowly focused on requiring outside groups to disclose their donors
and include disclaimers in their television ads.
DISCLOSE Act of 2012, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, requires
that outside groups who make independent expenditures must disclose all
their large donors. It also requires disclaimers so that those who view
a political ad know who has paid for it.
The bill would require groups such as Super PACs, 501(c) organizations,
corporations and labor unions who make independent expenditures to
disclose their donors more frequently throughout the entire primary and
general election period, giving voters the necessary tools to cast their
ballots. Similarly, disclaimer requirements in all political
advertisements will tell voters who is responsible for the ads they see.
Schumer introduced similar legislation in 2010, shortly after the
Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC altered the
election landscape by allowing corporations and labor organizations to
spend unlimited amounts of money on independent expenditures. It failed
by one vote to achieve cloture in the Senate, but a companion bill
passed the House. The new legislation dropped some provisions and
simplified the 2010 bill, but still is intended to require full
disclosure of individuals and groups who spend money on elections.