Voters and Majority rule are today’s losers in Senate DISCLOSE Act Vote

As we approach the most moneyed election in our nation’s history, it is unconscionable that a Senate minority today used an unconstitutional rule to kill legislation that would have given citizens a clearer picture of just who is spending big money to influence our elections, Common Cause President Bob Edgar said today.

The DISCLOSE Act would have closed huge loopholes that have allowed massive amounts of secret money to be spent in the presidential and congressional races.

“The 44 senators today who killed DISCLOSE today sided with big, secretive money, over citizens’ rights to know what is happening in this election,” Edgar said. “Voters are the big losers today.”

Public opinion polls consistently show that a clear majority of American agree that voters have a right to know who is spending money to influence votes. “The Supreme Court has affirmed that disclosure requirements are constitutional and serve as an important check on efforts to buy our elections,” he added, “but rather than an act in the public interest a minority of senators clearly prefer to use an undemocratic rule to maintain a campaign finance system that invites corruption.”

The bill set aside by today’s Senate vote was a slimmed-down version of disclosure legislation that passed the House in 2010 and was blocked in the Senate by a single vote, also thanks to a filibuster. “The bill was re-drafted to answer specific objections raised by its opponents,” Edgar said; “it required disclosure only of contributions exceeding $10,000 and it would have imposed exactly the same requirements on corporations and unions. There was no good reason to oppose it.

“With today’s vote, it’s up to voters to demand this fall that candidates for offices from the White House to the courthouse declare where they stand on the outrageous flow of secret money into our elections,” Edgar said. “The secret donors, corporate and individual, now pouring six- and seven-figure checks into Super PACs are going to want something in return for their money. Unless we strengthen disclosure requirements, all of us are going to be paying those donors back for a long, long time.”