The Uncovered Money & Politics Stories of 2014 (Moyers & Company)
Bill Moyers’ wrapped up 2014 in Money & Politics with a half-dozen brief commentaries from experts on the “Most Undercovered Stories” of the year. Legal Center President Trevor Potter and Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert weighed in with their thoughts on foreign ‘dark money’ in our elections and the run of disclosure victories in courts around the country this year.
Both short commentaries follow below.
Foreign Dark Money?
By Trevor Potter
Billionaires and other deep-pocketed US special interests may not be the only anonymous backers of “dark money” groups. Only a few easily evaded regulations — really nothing more — guard the door to our democracy from China, North Korea or any other nation wishing to determine the results of our elections. Yes, it is technically illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to nonprofit groups that spend hundreds of millions in our elections, but how will we ever know? The donors to these groups are not made public, so only the IRS will ever see names — and how can they know if these are shell companies funneling money to elect or defeat candidates? Without a red flag being raised, the funders will never be checked by the IRS.
If North Korea hacked Sony and China penetrated our national defense systems, it would be naïve to think a number of nations have not at the very least considered hacking our elections.
Trevor Potter is former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and President and General Counsel of the Campaign Legal Center.
Court Victories for Election Spending Disclosure Continued in 2014
By J. Gerald Hebert
Courts from coast-to-coast have continued to uphold laws requiring disclosure of election spending. A long and growing list of Republican politicians may have flip-flopped and abandoned their longstanding support for disclosure, but fortunately the courts have held firm.
Disclosure of those seeking to buy election results and curry favor with the winners is now demonized as an attack on First Amendment rights. Fortunately, the courts continue to overwhelmingly support disclosure laws against a wave of such challenges.
While the Supreme Court has not been kind to campaign finance reforms or Court precedent upholding them, the Court has not wavered on its support for disclosure by overwhelming 8-1 margins.
J. Gerald Hebert, executive director and director of litigation of the Campaign Legal Center.
These commentaries originally ran on Moyers & Company on December 31, 2014. To view these and other commentaries there, click here.