Cicilline Re-Introduces DISCLOSE Act

May 23, 2019

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced legislation today that will end the influence of secret corporate spending in politics.

 

“Each day, more and more Americans lose faith that their government works for them,” said Cicilline. “If we’re going to fix what’s broken in Washington, we need to start with the way campaigns are run by empowering working people and reducing the influence of powerful corporations.”

 

The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act includes several provisions that the House passed in their sweeping ethics and government reform package, H.R.1, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring up for a vote. The bill:

 

  • Requires all corporations to report campaign expenditures of $10,000 or more to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 24 hours and to disclose all campaign-related expenditures to their shareholders and members. 
  • Strengthens the foreign money ban by prohibiting foreign nationals from participating in decision-making about corporate campaign spending. 
  • Creates a ‘stand by your ad’ provision so that groups who are running and funding a political advertisement must state that they “approve this message.”

 

“The DISCLOSE Act will shine a bright light on the flood of dark money in our elections," said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. "It will address serious vulnerabilities in the system that currently allow foreign actors and big corporations to flood the airwaves and influence elections without any accountability. This legislation is a crucial step towards strengthening our democracy and putting the power back in the hands of the people. End Citizens United fully supports the DISCLOSE Act and thanks Congressman Cicilline for his continued leadership. We’ll continue to mobilize our grassroots members to help get the bill passed into law.”

 

Members of both parties have long supported campaign finance disclosure requirements. In 2003, Senate Majority Leader McConnell told NPR spending in elections should be “limited and disclosed” so that “everyone knows who’s supporting everyone else.” Conservative judges have concurred. “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2010.  “For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously . . . hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

 

Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Public Citizen, added, “The DISCLOSE Act is needed transparency, plain and simple. It shouldn’t take funneled secret money from foreign nations to prod transparency, but now that we are in just that crisis, the bill deserves a hearing, attention, and passage. Public Citizen applauds Rep. Cicilline’s bill, and in particular, the commonsense reforms would require any organization that spends more than $10,000 on elections to promptly report its activity and major financial backers, roll back poison pill policy riders that stop agencies like the SEC from finishing rules requiring corporate transparency, and prohibit shell companies from hiding a donor’s identity.”

 

According to a bipartisan poll commissioned by the George W. Bush Institute, more than three in four Americans think that “the laws enacted by our national government these days mostly reflect what powerful special interests and their lobbyists want.” The survey found that 55 percent of Americans see democracy as “weak” and 68 percent believe it is “getting weaker.”