My conversations yesterday with senior staffers on the Hill about the prognosis of electronic filing for Senate campaign finance reports were illuminating. The bill is stuck in the Rules Committee which at this point in the legislative cycle means it’s not happening. I was told that only if there was unanimous consent would the legislation move, but that was unlikely because there is one key opponent – Senator Mitch McConnell.
I had to laugh: the Senator known as the Darth Vader of campaign finance reform – who used to defend his opposition to that by calling for more disclosure – is now out to kill even disclosure! In the context of debating a disclosure amendment about union funds in 2001, McConnell said:
This is about as mild as it gets. All we are asking is for a simple disclosure to the public and to union members of how this money is spent.
It doesn’t restrict their spending of the money. It doesn’t in any way hamper their ability to raise the money. Simple disclosure is all the Hatch amendment is about, disclosure and sunlight.
And a year later, the Kentucky Post in an editorial endorsement of his campaign said:
But give McConnell this: He has never hidden his opposition to campaign spending limits, he’s been a worthy opponent for all comers and he has advocated full disclosure so that voters know who is giving to whom. He has elevated the debate.
So what does Sen. McConnell have to say for himself in 2006?