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FEC Must Reject Attempt To Eviscerate Campaign Finance Disclosure, Says Public Citizen and Transparency International U.S. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Public Citizen and Transparency International U.S. submitted a comment strongly urging the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to reject a rulemaking proposal by Commissioner Alan Dickerson that would enable any campaign contributor to remain anonymous if they felt that revealing their identity would subject them to harassment. 

In 1979, a court-ordered consent decree in Socialist Workers Party v. FEC exempted donor disclosure for the Party (SWP) following an extensive case record of government harassment, including the creation of a Custodial Detention List by the FBI that targeted all SWP members for arrest in time of a national emergency.

Commissioner Dickerson’s proposal would vastly expand this very narrow donor exemption to everyone who may feel intimidated by publicly disclosing the candidates to whom they gave money.

“Such a rule could well eviscerate the one element of today’s campaign finance law still intact: disclosure of who is paying for our lawmakers,” said Craig Holman, a government ethics expert with Public Citizen. “Democracy depends on transparency of money in politics. It is imperative that voters know the financial interests behind each and every candidate in order to evaluate their merit.”

Transparency is also an essential element of the democratic process. As Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote: Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.

“With half of the world’s population living in countries that will hold a nationwide vote this year, the United States must embody and exemplify the importance of transparent and informed elections,” said Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy for Transparency International U.S. “As democracy faces its biggest test yet around the world, it is difficult to believe that the world’s oldest democracy is even considering further eroding the public’s right to know who is influencing their elections. To ensure that the United States can continue to lead the global fight for democracy with credibility, we strongly urge the FEC to reject this proposal.”

Read the full comment by Public Citizen and Transparency International U.S. here, or contact Emily Leach at eleach@citizen.org to speak with an expert.