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Los Angeles Times Editorial: ‘Behind the Attack Ads’

Posted on by Karina

Shadowy front groups headed up by Republican operatives and funded by secret corporate donors are supporting the GOP and their special interest agenda—shipping good-paying American jobs overseas, turning Social Security over to Wall Street, and turning Medicare over to the insurance companies. An editorial in today’s Los Angeles Times highlights the secret money that is being used to influence Americans:

…Democracy 21, a campaign-spending watchdog group, estimates that as much as $300 million will be spent anonymously in this election cycle; voters will never know where the money came from.

…Crossroads GPS has not disclosed its donors. Campaign reform advocates are asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the group to determine whether it’s in violation of a requirement that it not be “primarily engaged” in supporting or opposing candidates.

One remedy for the avalanche of anonymous attack ads is the DISCLOSE Act, which would require nonprofits like Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which is covered by a different provision of the tax code) to disclose the names of the companies, organizations and individuals who fund them. The legislation has been approved by the House but was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster; it could, and should, be revived in a postelection session. The DISCLOSE Act also would require the chief officers of corporations — and nonprofits such as Crossroads GPS — to appear in ads and take responsibility for them, just as candidates do for advertising sponsored by their campaigns.

There is no cogent argument against maximum disclosure…Even as it ruled this year that corporations had the right to engage in political spending, the Supreme Court upheld disclosure requirements, noting a previous holding that “disclosure could be justified based on a governmental interest in ‘provid[ing] the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending.”

That is what the DISCLOSE Act would do. If those who seek to influence elections don’t have the courage of their convictions, Congress must act to identify them.

House Republicans voted against the DISCLOSE Act, legislation to require disclosure of donations in the wake of the Supreme Court decision earlier this year opening up American elections to unlimited corporate funding, and Senate Republicans blocked it from coming to a vote.

Read the full editorial»

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