The Senate’s laser
like focus on disclosure and disclaimer provisions mirrors Sunlight’s
recommendations in our draft Stop Undisclosed Payments in Elections from Ruining PublicAccountability Act, (the SUPERPAC Act) a bill we proposed on the second anniversary of the
Specifically, the bill’s robust reporting requirements for Super PACs, corporations,
unions and nonprofit organizations that make independent expenditures and electioneeringcommunications will begin to address many of the problems wrought by
It willshine a light on dark money; it will provide an enforcement mechanism to ensure that noforeign money is influencing our political process; it will allow citizens to determine thecredibility of campaign ads based on the messenger as well as the message; and it will armcitizens with information about campaign funding before they go to the polls, in real time andonline.
The DISCLOSE Act will Address the Problem of Dark Money
case resulted in two avenues, Super PACs and 501(c) organizations,which allow corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals to funnel money to campaigns,largely undisclosed.Well-heeled donors can use both routes to conceal their identities. Indeed,many super PACs have affiliated 501(c)(4) groups, like the Karl Rove-founded super PACAmerican Crossroads, which spun off a 501(c)(4) named Crossroads GPS or the pro-Obamasuper PAC Priorities USA Action, which has a sister 501(c)(4) organization, Priorities USA.The result is an elaborate political shell game in which a Super PAC can pay for negative,distorting ads by using contributions it received from a non-profit, disclosing only the benign ormisleading name of the organization, but not where the organization received its money. Thesystem also allows a more direct route for dark money to influence the system, as socialwelfare groups may themselves run independent expenditures or electioneeringcommunications
paid for by secret donors.It strains credulity to think that a special interest that funnels six or even seven figurecontributions through a Super PAC or a nonprofit will keep the candidate in the dark about the
contribution. If elected, the candidate will, at the very least, take that donor’s call, vastly
skewing access and influence in favor of the wealthy donor. The DISCLOSE 2012 Act will notchange the ability of those donors to make generous contributions, but it will allow voters togain some insight into who may be influencing their elected officials. Moreover, even if, assome argue, secret contributions are not corrupting because the candidate does not know thesource of the money, the credibility of a campaign ad rests on who is paying for it.