According to various news reports, we can expect to see the legislative response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC in the coming days. Shortly after the decision, Sunlight proposed a number of robust but realistic legislative solutions to ensure that corporate political spending is fully disclosed online in real time. Our suggestions have been well received on Capitol Hill and, based on framework that Sen. Schumer and Rep. Van Hollen outlined, we are cautiously optimistic that the ideas Sunlight has been advocating, like creating a strong reporting system for independent expenditures, requiring disclaimers on corporate political ads, and shareholder notification of corporate political expenditures, will be part of the legislative response.
There is always a concern that politics will get in the way of good policies. Will the effort to secure bipartisan support result in weaker disclosure provisions? Will the imminently achievable goal of real-time online disclosure be sacrificed because of the claims of powerful interests that timely disclosure on the Internet is too hard, too expensive or too politically unpalatable?
Sunlight will keep pushing for a bill that ensure that full disclosure comes in days and not weeks; that electronic filing of all disclosure reports is the default, and that provisions are in place to thwart efforts by those who would obfuscate their political expenditures.