Today, Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mike Castle (R-DE), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Robert Brady (D-PA) introduced the DISCLOSE Act responding to the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that overturned the ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns. The Supreme Court’s ruling allows corporate special interests to spend tens of millions of dollars to influence elections, drowning out the voices of the American people. The DISCLOSE Act increases transparency and disclosure of political spending, prevents foreign companies from influencing America's elections, and ensures that entities that receive taxpayer money can't turn around and spend money in elections:
Speaker Pelosi on the bill:
The DISCLOSE Act is essential to ensuring that the American people — and our democracy — are not overwhelmed by special interest money and influence in our elections. In its decision in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to unrestricted special interest campaign donations. Congress must act to ensure that the bank accounts of Wall Street and insurance companies will not drown out the voices of America's voters.
This legislation restores transparency and accountability to our campaigns, and ensures that Americans know who is really behind political advertisements. This bill requires corporations to stand by their ads in the same way candidates do, and prevents foreign-owned entities from participating in our elections. It prevents the use of taxpayer dollars to sway elections, and sets high standards for financial disclosure by outside groups seeking to influence our democratic process.
In our democracy, the outcome of elections must be left to voters — not special interests. I applaud Congressmen Van Hollen, Brady, Castle, and Jones for taking the lead to address this challenge, and I encourage members of both parties to join them in the fight to preserve and protect the rights and interests of all Americans.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD):
I'm proud today to be joined by Congressmen Castle, Jones, and Brady to introduce the bipartisan DISCLOSE Act. This legislation will let the sun shine in at a time when so many Americans are already concerned about the influence of powerful special interests on our democracy. Every citizen has a right to know who is spending money to influence elections, and our legislation will allow voters to follow the money and make informed decisions.
Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE):
At a time when Americans are struggling to have their voices heard in Washington, the Citizens United ruling expanded the ability of special interest to influence the political process. Americans have the right to know what organization or individual is behind political advertisements and under the disclosure requirements in this bill, they will get this critical information.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC):
The American people are crying out for sunshine and reform in the electoral process, and those are issues I've worked on throughout my career. My presence here today is an extension of that effort. I don't know many people in Eastern North Carolina who believe that transparency is a bad idea, or that Chinese or Russian-flagged companies should be able to spend unlimited amounts to influence U.S. elections, or that Wall Street banks should be allowed to spend their bailout money on campaign ads. This bill would address those issues.
Chairman Robert Brady (D-PA):
The bill being discussed today helps restore some of the balance between the citizen and his or her right to a government that's accountable only to them. The Committee on House Administration has jurisdiction over federal elections, and therefore the vast majority of this bill. The Committee already held its first hearing on this matter back in February and I am announcing that I will be holding a hearing on this legislation as soon as next Thursday. I am very committed to getting this legislation passed in the House, passed in the Senate and on the President's desk by the time the midterm elections are in full swing.