• Voters deserve to know origins of secret money in elections

    Washington, DC (July 17, 2012) – Twice this week, the U.S. Senate refused to allow full debate on the DISCLOSE Act, which would require complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections.   Twice, the Senate failed to invoke cloture, the procedural motion that requires 60 votes before the Senate can even consider legislation.

    “Huge sums of secret money are flooding into our elections, and without full disclosure the voters won’t know who is trying to buy influence,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters.  “Secret money should have no place in our elections, but we all know it is there, drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.”

    “Twice this week, our elected leaders in Washington, the men and women who had the power and opportunity to help, failed to take up the DISCLOSE Act.  They decided that they didn’t even want to debate this important issue,” MacNamara said.  “Instead of talking about how they could help voters understand where all of this secret money is coming from, they decided to kill the bill without any debate.  This is a sad day for voters and America’s democracy.”

    “The League supports the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 because we believe that Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote,” said MacNamara.  “The DISCLOSE Act builds on disclosure requirements already approved by the Supreme Court in Citizens United when it said that disclosure is important to ‘providing the electorate with information.’”

    “The League and its partners in the voting rights community will continue to push for passage of DISCLOSE because secret campaign money undermines the role of the voter and corrupts the election process.  Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.  The DISCLOSE Act is an important step towards eliminating secret money,” concluded MacNamara.

    CONTACT:  Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org


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  • On Monday,  the DISCLOSE Act will come to the floor of the U.S. Senate. We’ve been working hard to ensure that it overcomes the procedural hurdle known as cloture, and comes to the Senate floor for a full debate.

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    This Is It

    Very soon, the U.S. Senate will take up a bill to restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections. 
    Contact your Senators now and ask them to vote for cloture on S. 3369, the DISCLOSE Act of 2012.

  • Court Repeats Naïve, Uninformed Errors of Its Citizens United Decision

    Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Montana Supreme Court in the case of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, a case that dealt with a state law passed by Montana voters to end the corrupting influence of money in candidate elections.  The League signed onto an amicus brief in support of the Montana law.

    “Given an opportunity to take corrective action against the clearly corrupting influences unleashed by their 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Supreme Court seems more interested in its own abstract notion of the First Amendment than in protecting representative democracy for all citizens,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President.  “The Court has repeated its naïve, uninformed errors from its Citizens United decision.”

    “The First Amendment is meant to protect essential freedoms, not as a weapon to destroy American democracy.  We look forward to the day when the Supreme Court majority deals with facts rather than imposing their own ideological views,” she said.

    "Montana had a long history of corruption that the Court ignored, just as it continues to ignore the corrupting influence of independent expenditures in this year's federal elections.  In this case, the Court extended Citizens United to the states, even states where there is a history of corruption,” MacNamara said.

    At issue was a century old Montana law, the Corporate Practices Act (CPA), which prohibits corporations from making expenditures in campaign activities.  The CPA was a voter-adopted referendum that fought back against corporate interests and worked to end the corruption that unlimited funding caused in Montana’s government.

    “The first step in overcoming the effects of the Montana decision and Citizens United is for Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections,” said MacNamara.  “The voters deserve to know where all the big-money is coming from before they make their decisions in the voting booth,” she said. 

    “The League is deeply committed to reforming our nation’s campaign finance system to ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process,” she said.  “We will continue this fight in Congress, with state legislatures, with the executive branch and, where appropriate, the courts.  Voters will not stand by and let our political system be corrupted by unlimited secret money,” MacNamara concluded.    

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos,  kceballos@lwv.org

  • This week I was in Washington for, among other things, an event sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, “Fact Checking the 2012 Election: Views from the Trenches.” The three panels during this half-day event were drawn from the print media, the television news media, and from the television business and legal side.

  • Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker, and Maine Senators Collins and Snowe Urged to Support Disclosure

    Washington, D.C. (May 24, 2012) - The League of Women Voters today launched a radio ad campaign urging Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Olympia Snowe to step up and lead on the vital issue of disclosure and campaign finance reform.  The ad, “Flood of Money,” encourages the Senators to help bring sunshine and disclosure to the secret money pouring into American elections.

    The 60-second spot seeks to educate and inform Tennessee and Maine citizens about the tidal wave of secret money flowing into election campaigns.  “It is so important for the issue of secret money in elections to be placed squarely in front of the public,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters. 

    “The ad will likely reinforce what many have been hearing in the news – that current law allows corporations, unions, lobbyists and special interests to spend millions to get the elected officials they want into power, and to do so in complete secrecy,” MacNamara said.

    The ad calls on the Senators to, “Tell us you’ll let the sunshine in. Tell us you support full disclosure.” MacNamara says that, “These four Senators are key actors on this important issue.  They are in a position to make things right.”

    The League has worked on campaign finance reform at the local, state and national levels for decades and is optimistic that these key public officials will speak out for disclosure and support giving the voters all the information they need to make their decisions on Election Day. 

    The ad concludes saying, “The League of Women Voters believes Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote.  Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.” 

    The League of Women Voters of Tennessee and the League of Women Voters of Maine join in this effort.  The ads are made possible by a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, NY.  The ads will run on stations in Chattanooga and Nashville, TN and Bangor and Portland, ME from May 24-June 1, 2012.  To listen to the ad running on Tennessee radio, click HERE.  To hear the ad airing in Maine, click HERE.

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org