WASHINGTON, DC – Today’s 57-41 vote by the Senate against the DISCLOSE Act (S.3628) was a misstep and an unfortunate loss for recent momentum on transparency initiatives in Congress. Since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. FEC in January, the Sunlight Foundation has continuously advocated to create the more transparent, accountable political disclosure system made necessary by the Supreme Court’s decision. Sunlight also fought for online, real-time transparency provisions that were included in the DISCLOSE Act. The Senate’s failure to pass the legislation now leaves voters uninformed about exactly who is responsible for funding political ad campaigns and how much corporations and unions are spending in November’s upcoming elections.
“Voting against this measure was a calculated and disappointing move by transparency ‘ignorants’ in the Senate. The public has lost their opportunity to know the whole picture of the intersection of money in elections,” said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation. “However, we remain committed to ensuring that all election-related information is available online in real-time. Disclosure remains a crucial antiseptic to the corrupting influence of money in politics. We need to ensure our system is fully transparent.”
By not passing the bill, the Senate has denied the public information on important disclosures about campaign expenditures by outside groups, as well as the right to access to timely information about candidates’ contributions and expenditures. The DISCLOSE Act included a Sunlight priority that required financial disclosures be online, in real-time, in a single searchable database, and it would have required Senate candidates to electronically file their campaign contribution reports. This legislation reflected the Supreme Court’s view that “transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”
Despite today’s set-back in the Senate, Sunlight will also continue to support the need for comprehensive real-time disclosure for all election spending—across the board—from when and how often candidates, individuals and PACs report their contributions and expenditures to those involved in independent expenditures or issue ads.
Sunlight will continue to monitor states’ legislative responses to Citizens United v. FEC, which rendered 24 state election laws unconstitutional, leaving states to legislate campaign finance disclosure rules. To help keep track of these new laws, the Sunlight Foundation’s Reporting Group is posting synopses of the laws being passed by state legislatures in response to this landmark decision at http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/topics/citizensunited/.
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan non-profit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including TransparencyData.com and Party Time.