U.S. House: Members Urged to Support Amendment to FCC Bill Requiring Disclosure of Donors to Groups Buying TV Ads


Today the Campaign Legal Center and other reform groups urged Members to support an amendment to require disclosure of those funding television advertisements as the House considers H.R. 3309, a bill to curb Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulatory powers.

The amendment to improve transparency in federal elections was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).  The underlying bill has drawn criticism that it will impede the FCC’s ability to protect consumers but this amendment would require groups running political ads on TV to disclose their all contributors of more than $10,000 and place a list of these funders in the political files of the broadcast stations running the ads.

“Representative Eshoo’s amendment would simply let Americans know which special interests or individuals are shelling out money to help elect which candidates,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director. “Polls have shown this type of disclosure has the overwhelming support of Americans already sick and tired of campaign ads funded by groups revealing little about their backers.  This is information that voters deserve, and it is information voters will increasingly demand as the November elections approach and the barrage of campaign ads spreads to cities and towns in every corner of our nation.”

The groups joining the Legal Center on the letter included, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and the Sunlight Foundation.

The full text of the letter follows below.

Vote for Eshoo Amendment to H.R. 3309

March 27, 2012

Dear Representative:

Today the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3309, legislation designed to limit the ability of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt regulations affecting the communications industry.

While there are serious concerns that the underlying bill would hamper the FCC’s ability to protect consumers, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) will offer an amendment that would significantly improve transparency in our elections.

The following organizations urge you to support the Eshoo amendment:  the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Democracy 21, Public Citizen and the Sunlight Foundation.

The Eshoo amendment would require an entity that runs political ads on television to disclose the sources of funding for the entity of $10,000 or more and place a list of these funders in the political files of broadcast stations that run the ads.  This measure would help to ensure that viewers have access to information about the donors funding ads being run to influence their votes.

Such disclosure requirements for campaign-related expenditures were explicitly upheld in the Citizens United decision by an 8-to-1 vote. The Court stated that disclosure requirements "provide the electorate with information and insure that the voters are fully informed about the person or group who is speaking" and that "transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”

Our organizations urge you to vote for the Eshoo amendment.


Campaign Legal Center
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government
Common Cause
Democracy 21
League of Women Voters
Public Citizen
Sunlight Foundation