The DISCLOSE Act of 2014: What You Need to Know

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Senate Democrats earlier this month reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act of 2014, a bill they say will crack down on what’s known as “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.

Here’s are a few things you need to know:

WHEN? The legislation was introduced June 24.

WHO? The legislation was introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island. It was cosponsored by 50 of his colleagues, including: Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Al Franken (D-MN), and Angus King (I-ME).

WHAT is the legislation all about? Here’s what Whitehouse had to say in a release his office issued after the DISCLOSE Act was introduced earlier this month:

Since the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, a torrent of dark money has swept through our political system, giving corporations and billionaires the ability to secretly buy election influence.  The DISCLOSE Act will require political groups to list publicly their big donors, so voters can at least know who is trying to sway their opinions.

 

Our Republican colleagues have a history of supporting disclosure of election spending, and this bill will give them a chance to show the American people where they stand: with the individual voters they were sent here to represent, or with the billionaires and the corporations seeking to buy our democracy.

In the release, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy added:

“We know disclosure laws can work because they do work for individual Americans donating directly to political campaigns.  When an individual gives money directly to a political candidate, that donation is not hidden.  It is publicly disclosed.

 

By passing the DISCLOSE Act, we can restore transparency and accountability to campaign finance laws by ensuring that all Americans know who is paying for campaign ads.”

HOW big of an issue is so-called “dark money?” Whitehouse says it’s a serious problem, and cites statistics from the the Center for Responsive Politics, which reports that election spending from undisclosed sources in the 2012 election cycle topped $310 million—an increase from just $69 million in 2008, the last presidential election cycle before the Citizens United decision. 

WHY will the DISCLOSE Act help? 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 of more than $1,000, as well as the names of all of its donors who gave $10,000 or more.  Also in the bill: Transfer provisions prevent donors from using shell organizations to hide their activities, according to Whitehouse’s release.

DISCLOSE Act In the News…

The reintroduction of the DISCLOSE Act garnered much press. Click on the headlines below to get more details:

What are your thoughts? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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