Already in this important election year, new Super PACs are flooding elections with huge expenditures from million-dollar donors. Because they are supposedly “independent” from the candidates, and with new loopholes from the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts from corporations and individuals, and they can do so with limited disclosure.
While there are different avenues that can be taken to fight back against Citizens United and cut the influence of special interests, you can join us by taking the first step today by urging President Obama to appoint new commissioners to the FEC. Among other duties, the FEC can define what election efforts are “independent” from the candidates.
The FEC is supposed to be the agency that enforces campaign finance laws, but it is dysfunctional. Of the six commissioners at the agency, three of them staunchly refuse to enforce the law, and five of the six are serving despite expired terms. It is time to clean house.
Kathy Stolz spoke on behalf of WV League of Women Voters at this press conference put together by Natalie Tennants office. The Supreme Court public financing pilot project would provide funding to participating candidates for the 2012 Supreme Court races.
In this year’s elections, secret money ran rampant. Corporations and unions were able to spend unlimited amounts, without having to disclose their expenditures, to support or oppose candidates. If we’re going to scrub our democracy clean with a strong dose of transparency that eliminates this kind of spending in our elections then we need action before Congress calls it quits for 2010.
There is a small window of time for Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act in its “lame-duck” session that ends in just a few weeks. We, as concerned citizens, must take action to protect future elections. The DISCLOSE Act would empower voters by forcing groups bankrolled by anonymous donors to disclose the sources of their funding and their political spending.
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.
Elisabeth MacNamara, president of LWVUS, reports what happened in the Senate today:
Today in Washington we fell short by just one vote in our continuing battle to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections.
She went on to say that we will not give up the fight, and clarifies why:
This bill would require corporate and union CEOs to stand by their ads and expose 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.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released its decision in Citizens United v. FEC on the morning of January 21, 2010, allowing corporations to be considered persons with respect to free speech rights in elections. This was a big victory for entities like Citizens United, which had produced a film called Hillary, The Movie and wanted to show it within 60 days of the primaries, thereby, violating the 2002 McCain–Feingold Act. On the other hand, LWVUS had presented an Amicus Brief in the case that supported retaining existing federal election campaign finance laws governing campaign contributions by corporations. On February 3, 2010, Mary Wilson, president of the LWVUS, released a strong statement before the Committee on House Administration about “Defining the Future of Campaign Finance in an Age of Supreme Court Activism” in response to the SCOTUS decision. Her conclusion powerfully defines the Leagues sentiments:
Conclusion. The League of Women Voters believes that the Court’s majority decision in Citizens United v. FEC was fundamentally wrong and a tragic mistake. The majority mistakenly equated corporate free speech rights with those of natural persons. And the majority confused associations of individuals with corporations. But this is the decision of the Court. Even though we believe it will be overturned eventually, both in the judgment of history and in the law, Congress needs to respond now, recognizing its own authority and responsibility to uphold the Constitution.
Until the question of personhood for corporations is resolved, the least that voters should expect is the right to know the identity of those paying for the candidates’ campaigns.
Earlier this year the DISCLOSE Act failed to pass through the Senate. The legislation, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections, is expected to come up for a vote again this week.