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June 13, 2012
To: Members of the U.S. Congress
From: Elisabeth MacNamara, President
Re: Cosponsor and Support the DISCLOSE Act
The League of Women Voters urges you to cosponsor and work to pass the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, S. 2219 in the Senate and H.R. 4010 in the House. This legislation would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections.
In its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for big-money special interests in our elections. Corporations and unions can now make unlimited secret expenditures seeking to elect or defeat candidates. And they can make unlimited secret contributions to other entities that seek to elect or defeat candidates. This is unacceptable in a democracy.
We must preserve the integrity of our electoral process by increasing transparency and letting the sunlight shine in. Disclosure of corporate, union, and individual spending in elections is vital to allowing voters make informed decisions. The DISCLOSE Act accomplishes that fundamental purpose.
The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 is carefully crafted to require disclosure by outside groups of large campaign contributions and expenditures – those over $10,000 – and includes a valuable “stand-by-your ad” provision for ads run by such groups. It requires outside groups to certify that their spending is not coordinated with candidates and, very importantly, covers transfers of money among groups so that the actual sources of funds being spent to influence federal elections will be known.
S. 2219 builds on requirements already approved by the Supreme Court. In fact, the Court pointed in the direction of enhanced disclosure when it said that disclosure is important to “providing the electorate with information.” It also supported disclaimer requirements “so that the people will be able to evaluate the arguments to which they are being subjected.” We couldn’t agree more.
Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote. Secret campaign money has no place in America’s democracy simply because it undermines the role of the voter and corrupts the election process. Voters have a right to know -- whether it is a corporation, union, trade association, or non-profit advocacy group making unlimited campaign expenditures and influencing elections. Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.
The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to cosponsor and support quick action by Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act.