House Democratic leaders said Thursday they will reintroduce previously failed legislation that calls for strict disclosure requirements on political campaign donations for ads paid for by corporations, unions and other organizations.
“We want to make sure we have a country where the rules are fair to everybody and give everybody an equal opportunity,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told reporters at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Md., where House Democrats are gathered for their annual strategy retreat.
The so called Disclose Act, which in 2010 passed the then-Democratic controlled House but was blocked by Senate Republicans, called for new donor- and contribution-disclosure requirements on most groups that spend money on political advertisements but are not affiliated with a candidate or political party. The sponsor of the ad would be required to appear in the ad and claim responsibility for it.
The pending measures are a direct response to the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that struck down most limits on corporate and union spending in elections on the grounds they violated First Amendment guarantees of free speech. That case, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, has been chastised by Democrats but generally applaud by Republicans.
“A major impediment [to transparency] is the fact that special interests spend loads of money trying to influence the political process. And as result of the court decision Citizens United, those floodgates have been opened even further,” Mr. Van Hollen said. The Disclose Act “really goes to the heart of the matter of an opportunity society and reigniting the American dream in a way that works for everybody.”
The bill has little chance of passing the Republican-controlled House.