July 19, 2018
Bipartisan Vote to Remove Campaign Finance Riders Signals Broadening Support for Political Spending Transparency
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Public Citizen
Note: On Wednesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on two amendments to the Financial Services and General Government and Interior appropriations “minibus” to strike anti-transparency policy riders from the legislation. The amendments were offered by U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.). While neither passed, the bipartisan support in the recorded vote is notable.
In a historic, bipartisan move last night, the U.S. House voted on two amendments to remove harmful policy riders hidden in the federal budget that shield secret corporate spending in our elections from disclosure. In the first-ever recorded vote on the issue, 184 Democrats and six Republicans voted to remove the poison pill rider blocking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from finalizing a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. The rule proposal received 1.2 million supportive public comments – the most the SEC has ever received for any proposed rulemaking.
Last night also saw a voice vote on an amendment to remove a harmful rider stopping the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS from clarifying the definition of political activity for nonprofits. By keeping the current unacceptable definition, the rider keeps open the loophole that allows secret foreign money to influence our elections, chills nonpartisan civic engagement by law-abiding nonprofits and gives groups eager to abuse the system significant leeway to do so. The rider gained additional relevance this week with the Treasury Department’s decision to end the requirement that some nonprofits disclose their major donors to the IRS.
For years, conservatives in Congress have misused the appropriations process to ram through anti-transparency favors for their corporate donors in the hopes that the public won’t notice. Now, at last, the tide is turning. Public Citizen applauds lawmakers in both parties who stood up for the American people, shined light on secret political spending and voted for measures that would take meaningful steps toward draining the swamp.