In 2010, a bill to expand disclosure passed the Democratic-controlled house of representatives, but failed by a single vote in the Senate as Republicans unified to filibuster the measure. That bill — the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act also contained provisions restricting
government contractors and foreign companies from political advertising.
Today, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and some of his Democratic colleagues unveiled a new attempt — the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 — focusing just on disclosure provisions. According to a fact sheet provided by Whitehouse’s office, the bill would require the following:
Any covered organization that spends $10,000 or more on campaign-related disbursements during an election cycle [must] file a disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours, and [must] file a new report for each additional $10,000 or more that is spent, 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.
Covered organizations include super PACs and tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations. Additionally, the ads would have to list the top donors behind the message.
With outside groups spending millions and hugely unpopular, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says Democrats are hopeful that even in a more Republican congress, the bill might attract bipartisan support. The Senate’s rules committee, which Schumer chairs, will begin considering the bill at a hearing next week.
Like many of his Republican colleagues, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated many times that he believes campaign finance disclosure — not limits — is the best way to ensure a just political system. With this new DISCLOSE Act, they will once again be forced to show whether they actually believe it.