Senate Democrats Introduce Bill To Increase Super PAC Accountability

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WASHINGTON, DC—Today, 35 Senate Democrats, including New Jersey senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Mendendez, introduced the DISCLOSE Act, legislation that would require corporations and other entities to take responsibility for their campaign activities and ensure voters know which special interest groups are funding campaigns.

“As the campaign season gets longer each year and Americans are under a constant barrage of advertising and political messaging, the public deserves to know who is financing these campaign activities,” Lautenberg said. “The DISCLOSE Act would help voters make informed decisions, and it would shine light on the hidden agendas of Super PACs, corporations, and others with a vested interest in the outcome of a race.”

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and other recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its own precedents and ushered in a new era of unfettered corporate spending on political campaigns and Super PACs.

The “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections” (DISCLOSE) Act of 2012 would require any “covered organization” that spends $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours, detailing the amount and nature of each expenditure over $1,000 and the names of all of its donors who gave $10,000 or more. Transfer provisions in the bill prevent donors from using shell organizations to hide their activities.

To make sure that organizations and individuals take responsibility for their negative or misleading political advertising, the legislation also includes “stand-by-your-ad” disclaimer requirements that require any organization that puts a political ad on TV or radio to list its top funders in the ads. The head of the organization also must appear in the ad and state that he or she approves the message, just as candidates must do now.

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT),Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jim Webb (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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