Congress and the Executive Branch should focus on making the work of lobbyists and other paid influencers more transparent.
Money in Politics Disclosure
To uncover the levers of access and influence in Congress and the White House, real time online disclosure of money in politics must become the standard.
- Enact Legislation to Disclose Dark Money in Elections
- Appoint FEC Commissioners Committed to Transparency
- The IRS Should Tighten and Enforce Rules Regarding Electioneering Activities of Nonprofits
- The SEC Should Require Companies to Disclose Political Spending
- Improve the FCC's Political File Database
- Mandate Disclosure of Tax Returns and Bundlers by Presidential Candidates
- Enact Legislation to Disclose Corporate Political Spending to Shareholders
- Require Senators to Electronically File Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports
There is a wealth of government data that must be made accessible to the public.
- Create an Index of Federal Agencies' Major Datasets
- Enact the Public Online Information Act
- Enact the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act
- Make Congressional Research Service Reports Publicly Available
- Implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act
- Adopt FOIA Reforms
- Review the Personal Financial Disclosure System
- Report Earmark Requests from Congress Online
Appoint FEC Commissioners Committed to Transparency
The president should replace sitting Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioners with new members who affirm their support for disclosure.
The FEC has contributed to the dark money crisis due to its willingness to all but disregard disclosure laws. While the 3:3 partisan split of the commission is not likely to be altered, there is an opportunity for new commissioners to be appointed. Five of six sitting commissioners are lame ducks, serving after the expiration of their terms. The president should immediately nominate individuals who strongly affirm their commitment to the disclosure provisions in the law, and the Senate should only affirm new commissioners who are committed to enforcing existing campaign finance laws and closing disclosure loopholes.
Historically, party leaders have selected FEC nominees under an informal agreement between the president and Congress. It is up to the President to break this undemocratic tradition and make appointments based on merit and support for the law.
The integrity of US elections is under fire due to the torrent of dark money unleashed after the Citizens United decisions. Laws are already on the books that would have required a modicum of disclosure of the corporations, unions or individuals behind the ads that infected the 2012 elections. The president can demonstrate his commitment to strong campaign finance disclosure by naming FEC commissioners who are willing to enforce the law.