Statement by Trevor Potter Following Failed Senate Vote on the DISCLOSE Act


Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a Republican Former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), released the following statement:


“Today, the United States Senate once again failed to advance, or even allow debate on, the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act. This failure, coming despite a decade of tireless work from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the bill’s lead sponsor, disappoints those of us who have been fighting against the influence of secret spending.


More importantly, it deprives voters of important information about who is attempting to influence their vote and allows corruption to prevail by permitting special interests to continue anonymously rigging the system in their favor.


It is past time for Congress to enact legislation that bolsters transparency requirements and fulfills voters’ right to know who is spending on election influence – a right that has repeatedly been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, even as the Court has struck down other campaign finance and election-related laws.


Special interests may prefer secret election spending through opaque nonprofit groups because they can run political ads that mislead and manipulate voters without being accountable for those messages. But voters need to know who is funding these ads so they can weigh their credibility and cast an informed vote. As the late Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote, ‘The premise of the First Amendment is that the American people are neither sheep nor fools, and hence fully capable of considering both the substance of the speech presented to them and its proximate and ultimate source.’


It is time Congress took that premise to heart.”