In releasing the names of Jeb Bush’s financial bundlers yesterday, the former Florida governor’s presidential campaign said Bush is “committed to transparency.” Questioned in a follow up interview with MSNBC about legislation that would require disclosure of donors to “independent” groups that spend money in elections, a spokesman for the Bush campaign said Bush would “support a law that would increase transparency and disclosure.”
The spokesman’s declaration is a good start, but voters deserve more specifics from Bush about what kinds of disclosure measures he would support. A recent poll showed that 91% of 2016 Republican and Democratic primary voters agree that super PACs and outside interest groups that spend money in elections should have to disclose their donors.
To answer the call for reform, Common Cause and other public interest groups have released the “Fight Big Money, Empowering People” agenda, a plan of specific money in politics reforms all 2016 candidates should endorse to create a more balanced and representative democracy. Central to the agenda is the principle that everyone knows who is trying to influence our views and our elected representatives. Given his stated commitment to transparency, here are a few disclosure policies Gov. Bush should consider endorsing and prioritizing as a candidate and, if elected, as president:
(1) Support the DISCLOSE Act in Congress: Repeatedly blocked by congressional Republicans, the bill would shine a light on secret money by requiring outside groups that spend money in elections to disclose the names of their major donors. The next president needs to work with Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act.
(2) Push for Executive Rule Makings to Shine a Light on Secret Money: The Federal Election Commission (FEC), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) all have authority to require more disclosure of political spending. The public would welcome their action; polling has shown 88% of both Republican and Democratic 2016 primary voters agree that the SEC should require corporations to disclose the money they spend on politics. The next President needs to push these agencies to bring secret money into the open.
(3) Issue an Executive Order Requiring Federal Contractors’ to Disclose Their Political Spending: With a stroke of a pen, President Obama could require companies that receive federal contracts to disclose their political spending. Polling has shown 78% of Democratic voters and 66% of Republican voters want President Obama to sign this executive order. If President Obama fails to act, the next president can increase disclosure by signing an executive order requiring all federal contractors to disclose their political spending.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Money in Politics