April 23, 2012
Civic Organizations and Investor Groups Call Upon Congress to Approve
the DISCLOSE Act
The undersigned organizations support H.R. 4010, the DISCLOSE 2012 Act, sponsored by Representative Chris Van Hollen.
H.R. 4010 would provide the public with basic information about campaign expenditures made by outside groups to influence federal elections and the donors financing these expenditures. The legislation would also provide for timely disclosure by Super PACs, would require outside groups which make campaign expenditures to take responsibility for their campaign ads and would require corporations to inform their shareholders about their campaign expenditures.
It is a cardinal rule of campaign finance laws that citizens are entitled to know the donors financing campaign expenditures to influence their votes, and the amounts they gave. This basic right to know has long been recognized by disclosure laws enacted by Congress and by Supreme Court decisions which upheld the constitutionality of these laws.
In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court by an 8 to 1 vote upheld the constitutionality of disclosure requirements for outside groups making campaign expenditures. The Court stated:
The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.
Polls show citizens strongly support disclosure by outside spenders. According to a New York Times article on a New York Times/CBS News poll released on October 28, 2010, Americans overwhelmingly, "favor full disclosure of spending by both campaigns and outside groups."
The DISCLOSE 2012 Act contains only disclosure requirements and does not contain special exceptions for any groups. Congress should enact the bill and provide citizens with information they have a right to know about who is giving and spending money to influence their votes.
We urge you to support and co-sponsor H.R. 4010 and to take all steps necessary for its passage.
Alliance for a Just Society
Americans for Campaign Reform
Brennan Center for Justice
Campaign Legal Center
Center for Media and Democracy
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending
Coffee Party USA
Corporate Ethics International/Business Ethics Network ,
Credo Action Network
Democracy for America
Free Speech for People
Harrington Investments, Inc.
League of Women Voters
Main Street Alliance
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
National People’s Action
New Progressive Alliance
NC Center for Voter Education
Ohio Citizen’s Action Money & Politics Project
People For the American Way
Trillium Asset Management, LLC
Union of Concerned Scientists
Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust
& Investment Management
WV Citizen Action Group
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Zevin Asset Management, LLC