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Murray on Senate Floor: DISCLOSE Act a No-Brainer, Puts Washington State Families Above Special Interests

Jul 17 2012

Bill would force corporations and special interest groups to disclose their campaign spending

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to strongly support the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act of 2012. This bill closes loopholes opened by the Citizens United Supreme Court case that allows corporations and special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of their profits supporting or opposing candidates in elections without disclosure or accountability.

“This is a major step in pulling back the curtain on the outlandish and unfair spending practices corrupting our nation’s political process. And it is a major step towards the kind of open and honest government the American people demand and deserve,” said Senator Murray. “The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 shouldn’t be contentious because it simply does what a majority of the American people view as a no-brainer -- it requires outside groups to divulge their campaign-related fundraising and spending.”

The DISCLOSE Act would enhance disclosures and disclaimers in campaign spending by corporations and special interest groups. It would ban foreign governments from spending money to influence U.S. campaigns. And it would make sure shareholders and voters are fully informed of corporate campaign spending.

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“I come to the floor today to speak in strong support of the DISCLOSE Act, which would will help put an end to secretive campaign spending and close the glaring campaign finance loopholes opened up by the Citizens United ruling.

“This Supreme Court ruling was a true step backwards for our democracy. It overturned decades of campaign finance law and policy. And it allowed corporations and special-interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of their money influencing our democracy.

“The Citizens United ruling has given special interest groups a megaphone they can use to drown out the voices of citizens in my home state of Washington and across the country.

“And the DISCLOSE Act would return transparency to this process, return accountability to this process, and it would be a major step to returning citizens voices to the important election decisions we make in our country.

“This is a very personal issue for me. When I first ran for Senate in 1992, I was a long-shot candidate without a ton of money or wealthy corporate backers, but what I did have was amazing and passionate volunteers by my side. These volunteers cared deeply about making sure the voices of Washington state families were represented. They made phone calls and went door to door with me—to talk to families across the state who wanted more from their government. 

“Well, we ended up winning that grassroots campaign because the people’s voices were heard loud and clear. But to be honest, I don’t think it would have been possible if corporations and special interests had been able to drown out their voices with an unlimited barrage of negative ads against candidates who didn’t support their interests. So that is why I support the new DISLOSE Act.

“I want to make sure no force is greater in our elections than the power of voters across our cities and towns. And no voice is louder than citizens who care about making their state and country a better place to live.

“The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 shouldn’t be contentious because it simply does what a majority of the American people view as a no-brainer -- it requires outside groups to divulge their campaign-related fundraising and spending. Plain and simple. And it does this by shining a bright spotlight on the entire process and by strengthening the overall disclosure requirements for groups attempting to sway our elections.

“Too often, corporations and special interest groups are able to hide their spending behind a mask of front organizations—because they know voters would be less likely to believe the ads if they knew the motives behind their sponsors. For instance, an indication of who is funding many of these shadow organizations can be seen in the delayed disclosures of the so-called Super PACs.

“In fact, a Forbes article recently reported that ‘30 Billionaires Now Backing Romney’s Super PAC.’ It is unknown how much these same billionaires or their corporate interests are providing to other organizations with even less scrutiny. The DISCLOSE Act ends all of this.

“Specifically, the Act requires any of these front organizations who spend $10,000 or more on a campaign to file a disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours, and to file a new report for each additional $10,000 or more spent.

“This is a major step in pulling back the curtain on the outlandish and unfair spending practices corrupting our nation’s political process. And it is a major step towards the kind of open and honest government the American people demand and deserve.

“The DISCLOSE Act brings transparency to these shady spending practices and makes sure voters have the information they need so they know what they can trust.  It is a common-sense bill and it should not be controversial. And anyone who thinks voters should have a louder voice than special interest groups should support this bill.

“This bill aims to protect the very core of our federal election process. It protects the process by which our citizens fairly assess the people who they believe will best represent their communities. It exposes the hidden hand of special interests. And it creates a more open process for who gets to stand here representing them.

“So I am proud to support this bill.

“And I urge every one of my colleagues to vote to move this bill forward.

“Thank you. I yield the floor.”