Senate Democrats Introduce Legislation to Crack Down on Secret Spending in Elections

Jun 24 2014

DISCLOSE Act of 2014 addresses flood of secret money created by Citizens United decision

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and other Senate Democrats to introduce the DISCLOSE Act of 2014.  The bill would crack down on so-called “dark money” by requiring organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding in a timely manner.

“This legislation is a major step towards providing my constituents in Washington state the information that they demand and deserve regarding secretive, shady special interest financing in elections,” said Senator Murray. “The DISCLOSE Act shouldn’t be contentious because it simply does what a majority of the American people view as a no-brainer -- it requires outside groups and big corporations to divulge who is bankrolling their attack ads and campaign activities.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, election spending from undisclosed sources in the 2012 election cycle topped $310 million—a dramatic increase from the $69 million in 2008, the last presidential election cycle before the Citizens United decision.  This year, outside groups have run 90 percent of the television ads in the North Carolina race, and 87 percent in Michigan, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.  Many of these ads mislead voters and give no indication who is supporting or opposing the candidates.

The DISCLOSE Act requires any covered organization that spends $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours, detailing the amount and nature of each expenditure over $1,000 and the names of all of its donors who gave $10,000 or more.  Transfer provisions in the bill prevent donors from using shell organizations to hide their activities.