Earlier this year, the Supreme Court handed down a far-reaching decision that allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited advertising funds in candidate elections. The practical effect of the decision in Citizens United v. FEC is that such unlimited spending can be done in secret! We must act quickly to protect the 2010 elections from being swamped with secret corporate and union money. Legislation to require complete disclosure of corporate and union electioneering has been introduced in the House and Senate, and the League of Women Voters is strongly supporting this bill, known as the DISCLOSE Act.
The DISCLOSE Act will create strong new disclosure rules, require more complete disclaimers by those running ads, bar election spending by foreign corporations, create clearer coordination rules, and prohibit election ads by large federal contractors or corporations that receive federal bailout funds. Now, even foreign corporations can purchase ads in an effort to sway voters, and they can do so secretly.
We urgently need enhanced disclosure in time for the 2010 elections. Voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. Secret money, especially secret foreign money, has no place in America’s democracy.