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Public Citizen Calls on All Electioneering Groups to Disclose the Identities of Their Corporate Donors

Oct. 28, 2010  
Public Citizen Calls on All Electioneering Groups to Disclose the Identities of Their Corporate Donors

Groups Should Heed the Words of the U.S. Supreme Court and Recognize the Need for Transparency
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen is calling on all groups that are conducting electioneering communications or independent expenditures in the 2010 elections to disclose to the public the sources and amounts of corporate contributions they use for their campaign spending.

In a letter sent to nearly 300 independent electioneering groups, Public Citizen called on all to honor the expectations of the U.S. Supreme Court, which recognized the need for disclosure of corporate sources of campaign money in its January decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The decision gave the green light for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect candidates.

“We are seeing an unprecedented amount of cash flowing into the 2010 elections from corporate sources through independent electioneering groups, most of it entirely unreported,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The new phenomenon of hiding the identities of corporate donors is the result of outside groups pushing the envelope and an FEC refusing to enforce the law or clarify its own regulations.”

A study by Public Citizen of electioneering communications (ads that mention candidate names shortly before elections) found that while nearly 100 percent of sponsoring organizations disclosed their donors in the 2004 and 2006 elections, fewer than a third of such groups have done so in the 2010 primary elections. The level of transparency is expected to fall much further through the course of the 2010 general elections. (See “Fading Disclosure” at https://www.citizen.org/our-work/government-reform/articles/fading-disclosure-increasing-number-electioneering-groups-keep.)

In its Citizens United decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy justified lifting restrictions on corporate electioneering activities in part because of the disclosure requirements in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

 “Justice Kennedy was wrong to believe corporate contributions would be disclosed,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The court did not realize that the Federal Election Commission essentially gutted the disclosure requirements as we entered the 2010 elections.”

 Added Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen: “Transparency of money in politics is the very foundation upon which fair and open elections are conducted and corruption rooted out. It is extremely unfortunate that we lost the DISCLOSE Act this year in the Senate simply due to a Republican filibuster. We call upon all electioneering groups to avoid hiding in the shadows and demonstrate your commitment to democratic values by fully disclosing the corporate donors behind this tidal wave of campaign advertising.”

The letter is available at: https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/disclosure-letter-to_groups-final10262010.pdf, and the list of groups that received the letter, is available at https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/disclosure-mailing-list-final-10262010.pdf.


Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org