• League President Elisabeth MacNamara sent a letter to Speaker-elect Boehner urging him to retain the Office of Congressional Ethics in the upcoming 112th Congress.

  • DISCLOSE Act Coalition Press Event – November 18, 2010

    League of Women Voters Remarks

  • League Calls on Congress to Fix Secret Cash in American Elections

    Washington, DC The League of Women Voters of the U.S. reflected on the midterm elections today, expressing grave concern about the conduct of the 2010 elections.

    "The impact of election 2010 goes far deeper than which party controls the House or the Senate," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President.  "The tens of millions of dollars in secret money spent in this election are a recipe for scandal.  Voters were overwhelmed by millions of dollars in negative ads but didn't know who paid for many of them.  Pay-to-play politics won't change until we know who the special interests are who are pouring money into our elections," she said.

    "This election demonstrated the critical need to improve our governmental structures," said MacNamara.  "Because of the failure of Congress to act, there are no disclosure requirements governing the huge amounts of money that the Supreme Court recently turned loose in American politics.   Voters will be hard pressed to know if their elected officials are in Washington to serve the public interest or the special interests."

    "The incivility and tone of the 2010 campaign reached a disturbingly new low in American politics," added MacNamara.  "Not only was this evident in the advertising, but we also saw it in candidate debates and forums and in the public discourse." 

    "The League calls on Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections.  We also call on Congress to preserve and extend ethics enforcement.  With the election awash in special interest money, it is no time to cut back on the enforcement of ethics standards in Washington." 

    "The money poured into recent elections has been unprecedented.  The League believes that voters, not money, should be at the center of our democracy," concluded MacNamara. "We will continue our decades of work in helping citizens debate the issues in a civil and effective way and fighting for transparency, accountability and disclosure in America's elections."

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

     
  • Below is a list of letters to the editor published in newspapers across the country on the DISCLOSE Act, leading up to the election in November of 2010.  The list is alphabetical by state and then League.  For those newspapers that require a subscription a link was not included.

    Arizona
    Sun City West Independent - LWV Northwest Mircopa County

    Delaware
    Wilmington News Journal and Delware State News - LWV Delaware

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    October 15, 2010 202-263-1331

    LEAGUE CALLS ON MEDIA TO STOP SECRET POLITICAL ADVERTISING
    Candidates Asked to Repudiate Secretly Funded Ads

    Washington, DC – Today, the League of Women Voters called on television and radio stations to refuse political advertising paid for with secret money. The League also called for political candidates to repudiate campaign advertising in their races that comes from front groups and organizations that fail to disclose their big donors.

    "We are seeing huge sums of money from secret sources going into campaign advertising, much of it the negative advertising that poisons the airways," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.

    "Millions upon millions upon millions of dollars are being spent secretly in this election and it threatens to drown out the voices of individual voters. Because of changes in the law brought about by recent Supreme Court decisions, there are no disclosure requirements that let the voters know who is paying for the ads," she said. "Voters need to know who is paying – it is a vital part of their decision-making process in deciding whether to believe the ads," she said.

    "It’s just wrong. Secret campaign cash should have no place in our American democracy," according to MacNamara.

    "That’s why we are calling on media outlets and political candidates to act responsibly. The media should refuse these secretly-funded ads and candidates should repudiate the ads – even if they help the candidate get elected," she said. "Protecting our democracy and the vital role of informed voters is more important than any one election," MacNamara argued.

    "We understand that political advertising is very lucrative for media outlets, but we believe the public would be better served in this election season if TV and radio stations required full disclosure of the funders of campaign advertising – and refused such advertising if the sponsor fails to disclose the major funders," she said. "It’s not enough to know that an ad was paid for by ‘Moms for Apple Pie,’ ‘Dads for Cherry Pie,’ or some other innocuous sounding name. The voters need to know exactly who gave the big money to such organizations to pay for the advertising," MacNamara said.

    "Organization like the national Chamber of Commerce proudly announced their campaign advertising, but then refused to disclose which major corporations are funding the ads. Consumers and voters need to know," MacNamara maintained. "Candidates have to ‘stand by their ads.’ Big donors should stand up and be counted when they are paying for election advertising."

    The League of Women Voters has been calling attention to secret money being spent on political advertising for months, but the U.S. Senate has refused to act to require disclosure, even though the House of Representatives passed a strong disclosure bill which was supported by the League.

    Though the Supreme Court recently changed campaign finance law, the Court approved of enhanced disclosure. 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 subjects."

    Now we are seeing the largest campaign expenditures in history even as organizations accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from secret sources. Essentially, these organizations are functioning as Political Action Committees but without having to follow the laws requiring disclosure of their donors. It should come as no surprise that they lobbied against the DISCLOSE Act in Congress, which would have stopped manipulation of elections by fly-by-night anonymous hit groups, and prevented the infusion of undercover expenditures.

    "These activities are directly detrimental to our democracy. Voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. The League of Women Voters calls on all candidates to disavow secret advertising and asks media outlets not to accept ads unless the names of the true major donors are made public," MacNamara said

     

    ###

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 23, 2010
    www.lwv.org      

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    202-263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org

    OBSTRUCTIONIST POLITICS PREVAILS OVER CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

    Voters on the Losing Side of Political Gamesmanship

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters of the U.S. issued the following statement by national League President Elisabeth MacNamara on the obstructionism that prevented the Senate from beginning debate on the DISCLOSE Act today. The DISCLOSE Act aims to restore transparency to U.S. elections after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

    “Voters lost and special interests won today.  It is sad to see Senators cling to partisanship and obstructionism once again, instead of working together to find a middle ground on the DISCLOSE Act. This is a failure for which voters will have to pay this November and in elections to come.  We were particularly disappointed that Senators Brown, Snowe and Collins, each of whom understands the importance of reform and of fair elections, chose not to stand up for their beliefs. 

    “In the wake of Citizens United, the DISCLOSE Act is essential. It requires CEOs to stand by their ads, and exposes special interest groups behind last-minute attacks. It stops manipulation of elections by fly-by-night hit groups, and prevents U.S. corporations controlled by foreign – or even hostile – governments 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 make sure those interests are protected?

    “The bottom line is that voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. This is not only common sense – it is crucial if voters are to remain the cornerstone of our democracy.

    “We would like to know what these opponents have to fear from disclosure of election advertising. Furthermore, what is to prevent them from falling victim to the deceitful advertising which they are refusing to bring into the sunlight?

     “The League will continue to fight for enhanced disclosure.  Our democracy belongs to the voters -- not special interests.”

     

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

  • League Lobbies for Vital Campaign Finance Legislation in Maine

    "Activists Push Maine Senators to Support DISCLOSE Act" Maine Public Broadcasting Network, September 22, 2010.

    "Collins, Snowe Face Pressure at Home on DISCLOSE Act"  Washington Independent, September 22, 2010.

  • League Lobbies for Vital Campaign Finance Legislation in Maine

    "Activists Push Maine Senators to Support DISCLOSE Act" Maine Public Broadcasting Network, September 22, 2010.

    "Collins, Snowe Face Pressure at Home on DISCLOSE Act"  Washington Independent, September 22, 2010.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 22, 2010
    www.lwv.org      

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    202-263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org

    TRANSPARENCY, DISCLOSURE VITAL FOR ELECTORAL PROCESS
    League Urges Senate to Support DISCLOSE Act

    Washington, DC –  The League of Women Voters today urged the U.S. Senate to support action on the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections. 

    “It is critically important for the DISCLOSE legislation to be passed this year,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.  MacNamara sent a letter on behalf of the League to Senators urging their support this week.

    “Voters deserve to know the sources of funding for election advertising and without this critical legislation, corporations, unions and other organizations can make secret, unlimited political expenditures for campaign ads,” said MacNamara. 

    “Secret money, whether foreign or domestic, has no place in America's democracy,” MacNamara said.  “Voters have a right to know -- whether it is a corporation, union, trade association, or non-profit advocacy group making unlimited political expenditures and influencing elections.  This is not only common sense – it is crucial if voters are to remain the cornerstone of our democracy,” stated MacNamara. 

    “In the wake of the Citizens United decision, the DISCLOSE Act is essential,” MacNamara said. “It requires CEOs to stand by their ads, and exposes special interest groups behind last-minute attacks. It stops manipulation of elections by fly-by-night hit groups, and prevents U.S. corporations controlled by foreign – or even hostile – governments from pumping secret money into our elections,” added MacNamara.

    “Our democracy belongs to people -- not special interests,” concluded MacNamara.  “The League of Women Voters strongly urges Senators to support quick action to enact the DISCLOSE Act this year.”  

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

  • The League and coalition partners sent a letter to Minority Leader Boehner urging him to make a public commitment to the American people to support the continuation of the OCE and to oppose any efforts to prevent the OCE from effectively carrying out its mission and basic responsibilities.

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