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July 16, 2012

Senate Choice on DISCLOSE Act Is Clear: Transparency vs. Secret Political Slush Funds

Will Senate Republicans Again Block Disclosure of Campaign Money?

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen today urged the U.S. Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act (S. 3369) so Americans can learn who is paying for elections. In a letter to senators, Public Citizen urged them to show independence and leadership and “provide the type of full disclosure of independent electioneering that the Supreme Court envisioned and that all Americans deserve.”

“This is a call to Congress that Public Citizen has made repeatedly since the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates of secret corporate political money,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “We repeat it again: Open the books on campaign money.”

Tonight, the Senate will vote on the simple yet critical measure, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), which would bring out of the shadows most secret money that has been flooding U.S. elections.

In the last congressional session, Senate Republicans marched in lock-step with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to filibuster the DISCLOSE Act to death. The measure, whose full name is the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act, fell short of the 60-vote supermajority required to break the filibuster by one vote. Not a single Republican senator voted for disclosure – not even those senators who previously had supported full transparency.

 McConnell is on record opposing any disclosure of donors to outside political groups and is whipping his colleagues in the Senate to kill the DISCLOSE Act again.

Also today, Public Citizen sent an email to its members and supporters urging them to contact their senators to find out their position on the DISCLOSE Act. Where the senators stand can be looked up on Public Citizen’s “whip count” page, which will be updated throughout the day as activists report back what they hear from their senators’ staff.
“The public needs to pay attention to which side their senators choose,” said Lisa Gilbert, acting director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The vote on the DISCLOSE Act is a clear and simple choice. We will be watching to see which senators support transparency of money in politics and which prefer keeping the flow of campaign cash secret and under the table.”

 Meanwhile, groups and activists from all over the nation are calling on Congress to approve the DISCLOSE Act. Many in the blogosphere are joining in a blogothon during the late night vote on Monday and through Tuesday, when the measure is likely to be reconsidered. More than 150 national, state and local organizations have signed on to a coalition letter to the Senate urging approval of the DISCLOSE Act.

“Public Citizen will continue demanding action until Congress finally lifts the veil of secrecy from money in politics,” Holman said.

Read Public Citizen’s letter to the Senate in support of the DISCLOSE Act.

Read the coalition letter to the Senate on the DISCLOSE Act.



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