House & Senate Working to Counter
Manipulation of Elections by Elites
THE SENATE FAILED on Sept. 23 to pass the “Disclose Act” (S. 3628), legislation that would roll back the recent high court ruling allowing corporations to fund political campaigns and back issues during elections.
The House had already passed its own version of the Disclose Act (H.R. 5175) on June 24. Since then, several versions had been circulating in the Senate, but only one actually made it to the floor for a vote.
According to OpenCongress.org, a web site that publicizes the gory details behind the legislative process, the bill was the Democrats’ attempt to kill the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v FEC, which ruled that corporations have the same rights as individual Americans when it comes to elections.
OpenCongress.org reports that the bill “seeks to increase transparency of corporate and special-interest money in national political campaigns.” In addition, it would “require organizations involved in political campaigning to disclose the identity of the large donors, and to reveal their identities in any political ads they fund.”
Finally, it amends Federal Election Commission rules to ban foreign corporations, government contractors and financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money from making political expenditures.
Republicans closed ranks to block the measure from coming to the Senate floor for a vote. They argued that the Democrats were wasting time with this bill and should focus on cutting spending and saving jobs.
Democrats countered that Republicans were acting as the front men for big business, which wants to use its vast sums of money to secretly manipulate elections.
“Nameless, faceless individuals are spending huge amounts of money—corporate money and other money—for which there is certainly no transparency whatsoever,” said Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in defense of the Disclose Act on the Senate floor on Sept. 22. “It is important the American people know how outrageous the Supreme Court’s decision was.”
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the Democratic whip, came to the floor to use the words of leaders of the Republican Party against them.
“‘What we ought to have is disclosure. I think groups should have the right to run those ads, but they ought to be disclosed and they ought to be accurate,’ end of quote. Who said that?” Durban asked. “The senator from Kentucky [Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)] who has just come to the floor . . . in the context of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill in 2002.”
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(Issue # 41, October 11, 2010)