Show Your Support for the DISCLOSE Act

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The Issue: Campaign Reform

The Initiative: “We Want the DISCLOSE Act” is a project of Senators Patrick Leahy, Chuck Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse.

The Sunlight Foundation: Republicans have a long history of supporting disclosure in campaign finance

Background: Later today, the Senate will vote on the DISCLOSE Act. According to The Hill, “Democrats had revised the legislation in an effort to attract Republican support but so far not a single GOP senator has signed on.” The bill is expected to be blocked by Republicans.

According to David Dayen at Firedog Lake, once the bill is voted down, the sponsors plan to hold the floor and talk about the bill late into the night to bring attention to the issue and castigate Republicans: “The goal is to force a second vote Tuesday, but more than that, it’s to shed a spotlight on runaway spending in elections, and the secret donors who would rather fund that work out of the public eye.”

The Senate version of the DISCLOSE Act does two things: it creates reporting requirements for super PACs, corporations, unions and nonprofit organizations that donate to political campaigns; and requires political ads to feature disclaimers by the top officials of the funding groups, similar to the stand-by-your-ad mandates required of candidates in their ads. (“I’m ___________ and I approve this message.”) The hope is that the disclaimer requirement will make super PACs more accountable for the content of their ads.

The Sunlight Foundation has been advocating for transparency in political contributions and political advertising since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision made it possible for corporations and others to donate unlimited sums of money to political action committees with little or no reporting requirements. The DISCLOSE act mirrors Sunlight’s Stop Undisclosed Payments in Elections from Ruining Public Accountability Act (the SUPERPAC Act) and Sunlight is in favor of both the House and the Senate versions of the bill.

Although the Senate bill is a stripped down version of the House bill, Senator Schumer (D-NY) believes it has a better chance with Republicans, who opposed a similar bill last Congress because they said it limited people’s First Amendment rights. He told The Hill last week, “It is now disclosure and disclaimer. Plain and simple. And that makes it have a better chance of passing.”

Essential Links

If you want to learn more about the Act, visit the "We Want the DISCLOSE Act" website. Over 87,000 have signed their petition.

Find out more about the organizations and senators supporting and opposing this bill, and weigh in with your thoughts at Pop Vox.

Supporters of the bill, such as former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, have called on people to contact their senators today to express their support of the bill.

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  • Rick Louden

     Dear Organization Leaders,
        I believe that this is the most democratic prospect ever. Please tell me what you think and if you will pass it on.     This might be a good idea for every democratic country. It asks the simple questions: What do we need representatives for anymore? Don’t we have computers and the Internet? Have “they” done a good job? Please forward this to your members. It may just give the power back to the people. Please hurry as there are only four weeks left for signatures. I need 25,000 for the administration to have to deal with this petition. My personal goal is a million signatures. Please help. Here is a copy of the letter that I have been sending out:  Hello all,      This is a plea for everyone to sign my petition at the White House. It calls for the elimination of the house of representatives and to split the senate. What do we need representatives for anymore? Washington is not two months journey away now, it is two minutes. Why not take the money spent on representatives, their offices, their staffs, their travel expenses, electricity, communication, their residences, (and let’s not forget) their life time pay and benefit packages and spend it on computers and limited free access to the internet for all voting age citizens to vote their own minds. It could be monitored by three outside sources like Price Waterhouse super computers, the un or world court departments that already watchdog voting around the world, and a third outside super computer monitoring system. These could work to make sure our votes are our votes. This would truly be the first real government “for the people” and “by the people.” The senators (half for the people’s bills and half for their own bills ) are still, in my mind, needed to make us flexible as there may be times when an emergency vote must be made. We could always undo it later. The idea is that for every bill presented (no more than a few per week) one senator would make a video (no longer than one hour) for and another against it. The President could also make a video stating his views on the bill. After a citizen views all three videos, they can vote on it personally or add a comment or both. The senate and the president could still block or veto bills that their better judgment said was no good, but they better have a boat load of good reasons why. This would totally eliminate or greatly reduce: big money influence, pork barrel politics, lobbyists, special interests, and partisan politics. I believe that this is the wave of the future and will happen somewhere sometime. Why not here? Why not now? If you agree please go to the link below and sign the petition calling for this change in government. You will have to create an account at the white house web site, log in, log off then use the link below. believe that this is the only way we will ever reclaim our country. It would eliminate a lot of the things that are wrong with our country and create a true democracy. Thanks to computers and the internet we could truly have a democratic society that is “for the people” and “by the people.” So, please sign this petition and share it with everyone you know.                                                        Thank you for your time to read this and for signing my petition if you chose to do so.                                                                                                                                                Rick Louden 

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Moyers,
    You have  mentioned  on your program the national DISCLOSE act that is working its way through Congress. It will  be great if and when we finally have a national DISCLOSE Act. Unfortunately with the  Republicans having a stranglehold there’s little possibility of that  happening at this time.

    On the other hand, we have a good chance to pass a California DISCLOSE Act (AB #1648) working its way through the legislature. We are just one vote short of the 2/3 needed. We do need more public pressure to get that last vote;  that’s the problem:   though a Field Poll has shown support of disclosure in the 80+% range…  even among Republicans and Tea Party people,  few Californians  actually know about the DISCLOSE act.
    That’s where you come in.
    A discussion of it on your program would  greatly promote the CA DISCLOSE act both in California and also nationwide.
    California has always  been a groundbreaker for progressive laws and having it passed here would make it easier to eventually enact  this vitally important legislation in Congress and/or in other states.
     I’m the Publicity Committee chair for  California Clean Money Campaign ( )  and  recently talked with  Senator Feingold at a fundraiser for the Disclose Act;  he said he’d be happy to discuss the Disclose Act on your program. Your people can contact him via his Chief of Staff Mary Irvine.

    Yours for Democracy,
    Lee Spiegel

  • Frank Paolino

    I hope for the sake of those that disclose that they are not “swatted” by liberal kooks. This new development is chilling and really goes against Obama’s “civility” pledge.

  • veritassidney

    We need more disclosure. The only secrets that the government should keep are those relating to a military situation or a critical diplomatic operation.
    There is no excuse for not publishing a list of ALL political contributions. This must include the identity of any funds contributed to or by any organization that is advocating for a foreign government such as the AIPAC. The advocacy supported by the AIPAC is probably the greatest threat probably presents a greater threat than all others combined to our safety, world peace, and justice.