Debating disclosure

DEBATING DISCLOSURE…. I suppose what rankles most about Senate Republicans killing the DISCLOSE Act yesterday is just how modest the legislation really was.

For about a century, the country has prohibited corporations from sponsoring campaign ads. The Supreme Court concluded that such restrictions infringe on the First Amendment, so a majority of Congress decided, in lieu of a ban, to pursue disclosure. Corporations, labor unions, and non-profit organizations would have to tell voters that they’re sponsoring their ads, and in some cases, divulge their donors. It’s hardly unreasonable — corporations can run their ads, but for the sake of the democratic process, everything should be out in the open for the public.

Every single Republican in the Senate disagreed, largely without explanation. Indeed, yesterday’s GOP filibuster wasn’t on the bill, it was on the motion to proceed — every Senate Republican not only took a bold stand against basic campaign disclosure, they blocked the Senate from even having a debate. They’re against disclosure and against talking about disclosure.

With that in mind, a quote collection was making the rounds on the Hill yesterday. The highlights included:

* Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) “believes that it is important that any future campaign finance laws include strong transparency provisions so the American public knows who is contributing to a candidate’s campaign, as well as who is funding communications in support of or in opposition to a political candidate or issue.”

* Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): “I think the system needs more transparency, so people can more easily reach their own conclusions.”

* Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.): “I don’t like it when a large source of money is out there funding ads and is unaccountable… To the extent we can, I tend to favor disclosure.”

All of them filibustered a measure to start a debate over a modest disclosure bill.

Jamelle Bouie added:

Between Citizen’s United and the DISCLOSE Act, we’ve witnessed something genuinely incredible: in the interest of furthering the interests of powerful corporations, a narrow majority of Supreme Court conservative justices overturned decades of campaign finance precedent, and a small minority of conservative senators blocked congressional efforts at reform. At the risk of sounding really exasperated, this is absolutely insane.

If there’s evidence to the contrary, I’d like to see it.