Bennet Effort to Combat Dark Money Blocked by Senate Republicans

Bennet is an Original Cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act to Increase Transparency, Accountability in Campaign Spending

Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet voted to advance the DISCLOSE Act, which would combat dark money in elections and improve transparency and accountability in campaign spending. The bill failed to proceed after Senate Republicans blocked it.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United has flooded our politics with dark money, allowing a handful of billionaires to hide behind shadowy, third party groups as they seek to bend American politics in their direction,” said Bennet. “The late Justice Scalia understood that ‘requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.’ The DISCLOSE Act would strengthen our democracy by bringing much-needed transparency and accountability to campaign spending. I cannot understand why Senate Republicans blocked this common-sense proposal overwhelmingly supported by people across Colorado and the country.”

"Sen. Bennet has been a long-time leader fighting corruption and special interest influence in Washington,” said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United & Let America Vote Action Fund. “We applaud his vote for the DISCLOSE Act to end dark money and increase transparency in our elections."

Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, secret spending from outside groups in our elections has exploded. This dark money spending has increased from less than $5 million in the 2006 election cycle to more than $300 million in 2012 to over $1 billion in 2020. 

Specifically, this bill will:

  • Strengthen prohibitions against foreign actors participating in election spending in the United States, including in state and local referenda;
  • Prohibit foreign actors from establishing shell corporations to conceal election contributions and donations;
  • Require super PACs, 501(c) “dark money” groups, corporations, and other organizations spending more than $10,000 in elections and on judicial nominations to promptly disclose donors who contribute more than $10,000;
  • Shut down the use of transfers between organizations to cloak the identity of the source contributor;
  • Expand “stand by your ad” disclosure requirements requiring corporations, unions, and other organizations to identify those behind political ads–including disclosing an organization’s top five funders at the end of television ads.

Bennet is a leading advocate for reforms to fight the influence of money in politics. He has repeatedly introduced a constitutional amendment to address Citizens United by restoring authority to Congress, states, and the American people to regulate campaign finance. Last year, he introduced the ZOMBIE Act to require politicians no longer running for office to close their old campaign accounts. In February 2021, Bennet sent a letter to the Department of the Treasury urging the reversal of an existing rule that allows certain tax-exempt organizations to avoid disclosing their major donors and the amounts they give to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Previously, he has introduced the Close the Revolving Door Act to ban Members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, the Curtailing Lobbyists and Empowering Americans for a New (CLEAN) Politics Act to prevent them from soliciting campaign contributions from lobbyists while Congress is in session, and the Spotlight Act to require certain nonprofit organizations that engage in political activity to provide the IRS with information on donors who contribute more than $5,000.