Bennet, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Anonymous Spending in Elections

DISCLOSE Act of 2014 will Help Correct Flood of Secret Money Created by Citizens United Decision

With hundreds of millions of dollars from anonymous donors being spent to secretly influence this year’s elections, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and 49 other senators to introduce the DISCLOSE Act of 2014.  The bill would crack down on so-called “dark money” by requiring organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding in a timely manner.

“Colorado families have to endure one attack ad after another from political groups, many of them with phony names and supported by undisclosed donors,” Bennet said. “The few people who control these groups are setting the parameters for a debate that’s completely disconnected with the challenges and concerns of Colorado families. If you’re spending money on these ads, you ought to have to say who you are. The Supreme Court has said that it’s constitutional to require that kind of disclosure. This bill will restore some accountability and transparency and restore some power to the voters.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, election spending from undisclosed sources in the 2012 election cycle topped $310 million—a dramatic increase from the $69 million in 2008, the last presidential election cycle before the Citizens United decision.  This year, outside groups have run 90 percent of the television ads in the North Carolina race, and 87 percent in Michigan, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.  Many of these ads mislead voters and give no indication who is supporting or opposing the candidates.

The DISCLOSE Act requires any covered organization that spends $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours, detailing the amount and nature of each expenditure over $1,000 and the names of all of its donors who gave $10,000 or more.  Transfer provisions in the bill prevent donors from using shell organizations to hide their activities.

Since coming to Washington, Bennet has worked to advance commonsense reforms to help Congress function more efficiently. He has worked with Senator Tom Udall to introduce a constitutional amendment that would restore authority to Congress, individual states, and the American people to regulate campaign finance. He also introduced the Close the Revolving Door Act earlier this month with Senator Jon Tester. The bill would shut the revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington by banning Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists.