The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling has left an indelible mark on U.S. politics. Since the January 2010 ruling outside groups and organizations have been able to promote their own special interests with neither accountability nor transparency. In the past three years, we've seen a flood of secretive money, the formation of super PACs and little done in the way of policy to reveal the source of the funding. Our timeline breaks events into four categories: Courts (major court rulings and cases), Disclose (legislation around greater disclosure of political contributions and spending), Super PACs (trend and news for independent expenditure only committees) and FEC (decisions made by the Federal Election Commission).Continue reading
Last week, the US Court for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to a longstanding federal law that bans... View ArticleContinue reading
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next administration will have enormous power to say how open our government will be. We have organized our priorities for the next administration below, to share where we think our work on executive branch issues will be focused, in advance of the election results. From money in politics to open data, spending, and freedom of information, we'll be working to open up the Executive Branch. We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for Sunlight's Executive Branch work, please leave additional ideas in the comments below. (We'll also be sharing other recommendations soon, including a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, and a suite of reform proposals for the House and Senate rules packages.) Sunlight Reform Agenda for the Next Administration:Continue reading
Back in July, Senate Republicans successfully blocked the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required all organizations spending $10,000 or more to reveal their donors. Now we understand why. Though Nov.1, $213.0 million has been spent by “dark money” groups to influence the 2012 elections. Of that, $172.4 million (81%) has been spent to help Republican candidates, as compared to $35.7 million (19%) to help Democrats. (By “dark money” we mean groups that do not disclose their donors and only are required to disclose their congressional race spending within 60 days of House and Senate elections and their presidential race spending following the national party conventions).Continue reading
Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn is a well-known champion of free market capitalism. As somebody who supposedly understands all the benefits of markets, it is strange to see him attack disclosure and full transparency, as he did in a Wall Street Journal column this week entitled “The Chick-fil-A War is Back On: Welcome to the new intolerance.” McGurn starts off with some complains about how poor ol' Chick-fil-A is being treated. Apparently Mr. McGurn finds something intolerable about fast food consumers exercising their freedoms of choice and speech and using market forces to affect change. Would he feel the same way if they were complaining that the chicken tastes like rubber? Is not a boycott the most capitalist-friendly method of pushing change, with its pure reliance on market forces? McGurn also has bigger chickens to fry. He also doesn’t like the market-oriented (again) way that consumers have been sending signals to corporations that belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that writes model legislation in secret and has recently come under fire for pushing model “Stand Your Ground” legislation at the state level. And back in 2005, he didn’t like consumers pressuring Charles Schwab from supporting the libertarian Cato Institute. And though he does not discuss campaign finance disclosure directly, it is hard to ignore that for the last few months, there is been an ongoing debate as to whether so-called “dark money” 501(c) groups should be required to reveal their donors. In July, Senate Republicans filibustered the DISCLOSE ACT, which would have required these groups to disclose their donors. Our best guess is that just two dark money groups (Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity) have already spent $174 million on this election. And that the total dark money figure could approach $1 billion. McGurn apparently thinks all these contributions should happen behind the scenes, so that consumers and citizens can remain blissfully ignorant of the political agendas of the companies that they support in the marketplace. He writes that while transparency “may sound fine in theory, in practice these requirements can conflict with the right of people to come together in free association.”Continue reading
Among the Republicans voting Tuesday to block a bill requiring disclosure of donors underwriting political ads were many who have benefited from the contributions of groups that don't disclose their donors.
Seven GOP senators who benefited from close to $1 million in dark money during the 2010 campaign all voted against the DISCLOSE bill. Here is a list of them, along with the amount of dark money spent to help their campaigns:
- Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.: $3.7 million
- Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.: $2.9 million
- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: $2.7 million
- Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.: $2 ...
UPDATE: On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate once again voted to not proceed on the DISCLOSE Act. The tally was 53... View ArticleContinue reading
So far in 2012, more than 30 newspaper editorial boards from coast to coast have endorsed the DISCLOSE Act. Explore... View ArticleContinue reading
Our Sunlight Foundation colleague, Lee Drutman, has written elsewhere about the amount of dark money -- political donations that come without donors attached -- flowing into this year's campaign. But what about the conduits? As the Senate debates the DISCLOSE Act this week, a measure that would take modest steps towards adding a little transparency back into the campaign finance system, it's worth taking a look at the entities that are taking advantage of the loopholes that allow them to avoid disclosing -- sometimes just donors, sometimes just about everything.
The groups run the gamut from long established organizations with a ...Continue reading
Political irony: That's probably the best definition for what happened Monday when when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., probably the only GOP lawmaker to express interest in the Disclose Act, rallied Michigan on behalf of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who has turned his back on requests to be more open with his campaign finance.
McCain is the father of modern campaign finance reform. He was the coauthor of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as the McCain-Feingold Act. And he hasn't been shy about criticizing this year's conduits for big money, even if it ...Continue reading