Continuing his crusade against the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United case, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., has co-sponsored legislation that requires full disclosure of corporate and special-interest money in elections.
The high court’s decision allows corporations to spend unlimited funds either directly or through third parties and political action committees to influence elections. The majority of justices rules that a ban on those expenditures was unconstitutional and that corporations—like citizens—have First Amendment rights.
Last December, Yarmuth filed a bill seeking to overturn the Citizens United case through a constitutional amendment. He says the Disclose Act is another step to “getting money out of politics” and mitigate the impact of the case.
“Special-interest money equals influence, and an important step in curbing that influence is to shine a light on where the money comes from. We are seeing the devastating effects of unlimited secret money in politics right now: an avalanche of negative advertising paid for by a handful of wealthy donors. We have to put a stop to it and restore accountability in our political process,” he says.
The 2012 Disclose Act will:
· Require public reporting by corporations, unions, Super PACs and other outside groups to the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours of making a campaign expenditure or transferring funds to other groups for campaign-related activity (of $10,000 or more).
· Require corporations and other outside groups to stand by their campaign ads – with their leader and top financial contributors disclosed in the ads.
· Require corporations and other outside groups to disclose campaign-related spending to shareholders and organization members.
·Require lobbyists to disclose campaign-related expenditures in conjunction with their lobbying activities.
Yarmuth’s office points out that Republicans blocked similiar legislation two years ago and observers doubt this version will have much success in the GOP-controlled House.
Although the congressman is a longtime supporter of campaign finance reform and a critic of Citizens United, Yarmuth backed President Obama’s decision to endorse a Super PAC working towards his re-election this year.
The president’s campaign had previously pledged it would not help such groups, but Obama campaign manager Jim Messina announced that senior campaign and White House officials, including cabinet members, will attend and speak at Super PAC fundraising events.
Republican congressional candidate Brooks Wicker quickly pounced on Yarmuth for supporting Mr. Obama’s reversal. In a message to supporters, the Louisville accountant said the incumbent caved and defended President Obama’s “hypocritical decision to look the other way at Super PAC spending.”
“I guess when the orders came down from his bosses he had to fall in line. Well, what ever happened to believing in something and sticking with it, John? If it was so important that you were willing to amend the Constitution in December, are you really saying that now that it’s an election year scruples fall by the wayside? That’s sad,” said Wicker.