Pass S. 223

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Pass223 LogoToday, the Sunlight Foundation launched a new web site, Pass223.com, to harness the distributed power of the Internet to pressure the Senate into increasing disclosure of campaign contributions by passing a bill – S. 223, the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act – requiring senators to file their contribution reports electronically.

We need your help to pass this bill. Please follow the link to Pass223.com and call your senators to find out where they stand on S. 223. The site has full instructions on who your senators are, how to call, what to say, and how to report back to us. For more detail on the bill, keep reading.

Currently, presidential candidates and candidates running for the House of Representatives file their campaign contributions in electronic form. Electronic filing speeds the process by which campaign contribution data reaches the public over the Internet, allowing citizens and journalists to more easily spot a conflict of interest or an inappropriate contribution. Filers in the Senate do not file electronically, delaying disclosure by weeks and possibly months.

Passage of S. 223 appears to be a “no-brainer,” and isn’t publicly opposed by any senator. However, at every step of the way over the past year and a half the bill has been interrupted and blocked for a variety of reasons.

Right now, Sen. John Ensign (pronounced en-sen) is blocking the bill by insisting on adding a poison pill amendment. This poison pill is meant to protect senators from legitimate ethics complaints filed by outside groups. The amendment would impose an unconstitutional burden on on charities, religious organizations and other nonprofits by forcing them to disclose their donors when they file ethics complaints against sitting senators. Ensign’s amendment is opposed by a group of non-profits, religious groups, and charities from the right and the left.

For S. 223 to pass, Ensign’s amendment must be defeated. And to do that, we need you help in identifying senators who OPPOSE Ensign and SUPPORT S. 223. This is a great chance to help pass a long overdue bill.

Go to Pass223.com and get started calling your senators (remember, you have two of them). Don’t forget to report back so that we know where these senators stand on increasing campaign finance disclosure.

Pass223.com is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation, Public Citizen, Public Campaign, Center for Responsive Politics, Campaign Finance Institute, Change Congress, and Open the Government.

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  • I used Public Campaign’s 8/5/08 “Is Your Senator Willing to Share [Campaign Financing Information]?” emailing to write an email to eight friends in a state I used to live in (my current Senators were already on board S.223) and did some of the easy early work for them related to their contacting their senators, whom I know something about.

    Perhaps suggesting readers who have lived in other states contact those they know in those states regarding this and other actions would be a good idea.

    The collaboration among groups is VERY encouraging!

  • What we’re talking about here is a nonprofit or other outside organization filing an ethics complaint against a sitting Senator with the Senate Ethics Committee.

    Whatever objections you may with Pastor Ted (who is no longer with the New Life Church for, well, well known reasons) or Fred Phelps, they aren’t relevant in this instance. And, if they did lobby Congress, they would have to disclose just like everyone else. (To look at the Christian Right’s lobbying arm just look for the American Family Association.)

    What we are talking about here is an amendment that would require organizations filing ethics complaints to reveal their sources of funding. This is an attempt to impose an undue burden to groups attempting to hold Congress accountable. It’s a protection racket amendment.

    Not only that, it is unconstitutional. Previous Supreme Court rulings have forbidden the forced disclosure of nonprofit donor lists. This amendment would constitute such a forced disclosure.

    If Senators or others, such as yourself, want to learn more about nonprofits and religious organizations, there are many ways including looking up 990 tax forms that all tax-exempt nonprofits must file.

  • late

    I’m not sure that I agree with your opposition. I’d think it is actually fair to have these non-profit groups including Religious churches to “open there kimonos”. Remember they aren’t paying any taxes and they have the “God given ability” to influence – someone – I’m all for holding everyone accountable to be on the up and up. Lets start with these guys:

    Westboro Baptist Church headed by Fred Phelps
    New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Pastor Ted Haggard