DISCLOSE Act Again Falls Victim to Partisan Gridlock: Statement of Policy Director Meredith McGehee


For the second day in a row the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 (S. 3369), which would require disclosure of political spending, failed to collect the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and move to consideration.

Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director issued the following statement:

The vote was disappointing, but not unexpected.  No matter how many times Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his colleagues are willing to say it on the Senate floor, the First Amendment does not guarantee the right of anyone to anonymously spend millions of dollars picking winners and losers in federal elections.  At least Senator Murkowski (R-AK) had the courage to admit the emperor has no clothes.  Hopefully she will live up to her commitment to work toward a bipartisan effort to enact meaningful disclosure legislation, and hopefully other Republican Senators will follow her lead.

How did transparency about spending in our elections become a partisan issue?   There has been consensus for so many years that, while the ballot box secrecy is sacred, spending money to influence the outcome of elections would be disclosed.  It’s a sad day when this issue has become a victim of partisanship.  It’s especially disappointing that retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, (R-ME), chose to put partisan loyalty ahead of her longstanding commitment to campaign finance reform.  Yet it seems to be symptomatic of the gridlock in Washington.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI), deserves great credit for taking the lead on this important issue, along with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN) and all the rest who spoke in favor of the DISCLOSE Act of 2012.  This issue is not going away and neither is the effort to ensure transparency. 

Secrecy in campaign finance is a precursor to scandal.  After the 2012 elections, there will be a renewed effort to foster the bipartisan support that transparency deserves.