July 18, 2017

Reintroduction of the DISCLOSE Act Aims to Curb Foreign Influence in Our Elections

Statement from Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s Vice President of Legislative Affairs

Note: Today U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act with U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar(D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey( D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.),Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The legislation limits foreign influence in American elections by requiring increased disclosure by organizations that spend money in politics and on political ads around elections. If passed, the DISCLOSE Act also would prevent foreign nationals and governments from hiding their political spending behind corporate actors.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to years of secret outside money in our elections – and it is time to stem the flow. Additionally, loopholes in our campaign finance laws have made it possible for that money to come from foreign nationals or even foreign governments that may be looking to disrupt American democracy and tip the scales in their favor. Disclosure of the true sources of outside campaign spending – whether it’s from wealthy individuals, corporations or foreign entities – is essential to a functioning democracy that serves all Americans equally.

The DISCLOSE Act closes many of the current loopholes that allow foreign influence to remain hidden and brings much-needed transparency to the way in which money flows into our elections. The legislation would require organizations that spend more than $10,000 on politics to disclose the donors of their political funds, It also would impose stricter disclosure requirements on ads that run near elections and appear to endorse a specific candidate, stop donors from hiding behind shell organizations and forbid corporations that are significantly controlled by a foreign nation or government from spending on U.S. elections.

It is imperative that we protect our elections from anyone looking to secretly shape our democracy. Public Citizen applauds Senators Whitehouse, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Cardin, Casey, Duckworth, Durbin, Feinstein, Franken, Gillibrand, Harris, Hassan, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Hirono, Kaine, King, Klobuchar, Leahy, Markey, Merkley, Murphy, Murray, Reed, Sanders, Schumer, Shaheen, Stabenow, Udall, Van Hollen and Warren for introducing this critical legislation to restore balance to our democracy.

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