A House committee put a new twist Tuesday on the old cliché that ignorance is bliss.
In this case, the public’s ignorance is the committee majority’s bliss.
In a party line vote, Republicans on the House Communications and Technology subcommittee defeated legislation that would have forced the secret sponsors of broadcast political ads into the open. The bill by Rep. Yarmuth, D-KY would have directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use its long-standing "sponsorship identification" authority to write rules requiring in-ad, on-air disclosure of who is paying for political commercials. Reps. Pallone, Eshoo, Butterfield, Welch and Matsui signed on in support.
Our elections are awash in billions of dollars in “dark money” ads. In every campaign cycle, voters must endure half-truths - and outright lies - from nebulous groups with non-descript names. At a minimum, voters deserve to know when a group calling itself "Americans for Clean Air" is actually a front for big polluters.
Eight of the nine Supreme Court justices in the otherwise odious Citizens United decision agreed that ad disclosure is entirely constitutional.
How could anyone oppose this common sense reform?
As former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Advisor Michael Copps said,
"While the House vote against this measure was lock-step partisan, it's not that at all outside the Beltway. Republican voters are no more enamored than Democrats by invisible interests who hide their identity behind the dark veil of anonymity."
He's right: Outside the Beltway, Democratic and Republican state lawmakers have come together to pass similar bipartisan reforms, which are enormously popular with voters across the spectrum.
The House vote was partisan, but the Senate has yet to speak. Contact your Senator today to ask him or her to co-sponsor The Sunlight in Sponsorship Identification Act.
Office: Common Cause National