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April 19, 2012
To: Members of the U.S. Senate
From: Elisabeth MacNamara, President
Re: Cosponsor the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, S. 2219
The League of Women Voters urges you to cosponsor S. 2219, the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, which 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. S. 2219 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.
S. 2219 focuses only on disclosure and does not contain elements from previous legislation such as barring campaign spending by government contractors.
Voters deserve to know the sources of funding for election advertising. The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to cosponsor and support quick action by the Senate to enact the DISCLOSE Act of 2012.