The Obama Administration strongly came out on Monday for the
DISCLOSE (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections)
Act, which would require enhanced disclosures on TV and radio political advertising.
It was a case of the White House supporting a bill supported by another Whitehouse,
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who introduced the bill last March.
"The [act] is a necessary measure to ensure
transparency and accountability and to equip Americans with the tools to know
who is attempting to influence the Nation's elections," said the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB).
The bill is meant to help track some of the money flowing
into the system after the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on direct corporate
and union funding of electioneering communications (for or against a candidate)
in the run-up to federal elections and primaries violated their speech rights.
It would require potentially extensive on-air disclosures in TV and radio
"The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010), allowed unlimited corporate
and special-interest money in elections, bringing about an era where
corporations and other wealthy interests can exert vastly disproportionate
influence, including through anonymous donation," said OMB. "In the absence of the disclosure rules in S. 3369,
corporations and wealthy individuals will continue to be able to shield their
donations from disclosure. Congress should act now to hold corporations and
special interests that participate in the Nation's elections accountable to the
were trying to bring the bill up for a vote Monday, but Republicans blocked a move to invoke cloture and the Dems were still talking about the billl at press time--9:30 p.m,. with plans to try and hold another cloture vote--which requires 60 votes--on MOnday so they could debate and bring the bill up for an up-o- down vote. The cloture vote went down 51 to 44, so Dems were pointing out they had they votes to pass it if Republicans would stop filibustering.
The bill as initially introduced would have required any TV or radio ads to include
"I am so-and-so and I paid for this ad" disclosures from up to the
top five funders for TV ads and top two for radio ads, with, in the case of TV,
accompany crawls, photos and video. But late last week Democratic backers stripped it down to simply the disclosure part.
It is the latest version of a bill introduced in 2010 by
Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the House and Sen. Chuck Schumer in response to the
Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United to allow corporations and unions to
directly fund campaign ads -- the court ruled that the ban had been an unconstitutional
infringement on those entities' speech rights.