Announces Original Cosponsorship of DISCLOSE Act Unveiled Today
Bill Would Limit Fallout from Supreme Court Ruling Allowing Unlimited Spending by Special Interests on Elections
Washington, DC - Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, signed onto legislation unveiled today that would limit the fallout from the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which allows unlimited special interest spending on elections.
The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections, or DISCLOSE Act, which Bennet has cosponsored, will reduce the increased influence of special interest money in our federal elections that this decision will otherwise unleash.
"Our new legislation protects the American people from the worst parts of Washington's broken campaign finance system is to get the special interest attack money out into the open so voters know exactly who's behind the ad buys," Bennet said. "We simply can't stand aside as special interest money is allowed to flood our airwaves and stack the deck further against the American people."
Specifically, the DISCLOSE Act would:
1. Enhance Disclaimers: Make CEOs and other executives take responsibility for their ads.
If a corporation, union, section 501(c)(4), (5), or (6) organization, or section 527 organization spend on campaign-related activity, its CEO or organization head will have to stand by the ad and say that he or she "approves this message," just like candidates have to do now. In order to snuff out the real money behind the ad, this legislation will drill down several layers and require the top contributor directing the funds to also "stand by the ad." The top five contributors to an organization would be listed on the screen.
2. Enhance Disclosures: It is time to follow the money.
Any covered organization must disclose within 24 hours to the FEC not just its campaign-related activity, but also transfers of money to other groups which can then be used for campaign-related activity. Also, a covered organization must disclose its donors in one of two ways: 1) it can disclose all of its donors $1,000 and above; or 2) it can set up a "Campaign-Related Activity" account and disclose only those political donors to that account $1,000 and above. If, however, the organization dips into its general account for funds, it must then disclose all its general treasury donors in excess of $10,000. Under either option, the Act allows for organizations to "wall-off" donations if the donor does not want the money to go to campaign-related spending.
3. Prevent Foreign Influence: Foreign countries and entities should not be determining the outcome of our elections.
Corporations that have either 1) a foreign entity controlling 20% of its voting shares; 2) foreign nationals comprising a majority of its board of directors; 3) a foreign national who directs, dictates, or controls U.S. operations; or 4) a foreign national who directs, dictates, or controls political decision-making are banned from spending in U.S. elections. If a corporation is under the direction or control of a foreign entity, it should not be able to spend money on our elections.
4. Shareholder/Member Disclosure: We should allow shareholders and members to know where money goes.
This provision would mandate disclosure by corporations, unions, and other groups to their shareholders and members in their annual and periodic reports. This would also require these groups to make their political spending public on their websites within 24 hours after filing with the FEC.
5. Prevent Government Contractors from Spending: Taxpayer money should not be spent on political ads.
Due to the appearance of corruption and possible misuse of taxpayer funds, government contractors with a contract worth more than $50,000 will not be allowed to spend money on elections. Similarly, TARP recipients who have not paid back government funds are also banned from spending.
6. Tighten Coordination Rules: Corporations should not be able to "sponsor" a candidate.
Loopholes in current coordination rules would be filled, banning coordination between a candidate and outside groups on ads that reference a candidate from the time period beginning 90 days before a primary and running through the general election. At the same time, rules limiting coordination between the party and the candidate are loosened a bit to allow for effective responses to the influx of corporate and special interest money.