DISCLOSE Act Coalition Press Event – November 18, 2010

League of Women Voters Remarks

Good morning,  I am Elisabeth Macnamara, the national president of the League of Women Voters.

I stand here today representing a nonpartisan organization of citizen activists and volunteers from communities across the country.   In its 90-year history, the league has always fought for a government that is open and transparent and that works on behalf of all Americans.

We support passage of the disclose act because secret spending in elections undermines the basic pillars of our democracy.  Secret cash has no place in America's electoral process.  

Fair and clean elections, determined by the votes of American citizens, should be at the center of our democracy.  Enhanced disclosure is the most basic step toward protecting the role of voters and ensuring that they can make informed decisions. 

Voters deserve to know the sources of funding for election advertising.  They should be told if it is a corporation, union, trade association, or nonprofit advocacy group making unlimited political expenditures and influencing 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, but the court also made clear that disclosure of this spending could be required by congress.

Discloure will require CEOs to stand by their ads, and expose special interest groups behind last-minute attacks. It stops manipulation of elections by fly-by-night hit groups, and prevents special interests from pumping secret money into our elections.

How can individual voters compete with organizations that not only have vested interests in Washington, but millions of dollars to spend in secret to make sure those interests are protected?  They can’t, and disclosure is the best voter protection plan we can offer right now.

We can and must preserve the integrity of our electoral process by increasing transparency and letting the sunlight shine in.   Disclosure is the key to allowing voters to make their own decisions and this bill accomplishes that fundamental purpose .

This is not only common sense – it is crucial if voters are to remain the cornerstone of our democracy. 

In the recent elections, we were all overwhelmed by millions of dollars in negative ads, but didn't know who paid for many of them. 

The voters lose out when they can’t find out if their elected officials are in Washington to serve the public interest or the special interests.

Secrecy also exposes our elected officials to corruption and extortion.  Here’s how it works.  A lobbyist visits a member of congress and says, ‘if you don’t do what i ask, we’ll spend a million dollars in secret to knock you off in the next election’.  What is a member of congress to do?  How are the voters served by such a corrupt system?  They aren’t. 

We say once again that sunlight is the best disinfectant.  The league will continue to fight for enhanced disclosure because our democracy belongs to all voters.

The league and citizens across the country ask our elected leaders to take action now to protect future elections by passing the disclose act.

Thank you.