We need to come together the same way we did when we crushed SOPA, and pass the DISCLOSE Act on Monday

As of right now, it looks as though the DISCLOSE Act is set to go before the Senate for a cloture vote on Monday afternoon. If you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate it if you would join me in signing the petition now. And, if you have the time, it would great if you could invest a few minutes, and call your Senators, letting them know how absolutely critical you feel this legislation is.

It’s worth noting that, as of right now, from what I can find online, neither of Michigan’s Senators… neither Carl Levin nor Debbie Stabenow… have signed on with the likes of Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Patrick Leahy, Chuck Schumer, and Sheldon Whitehouse to support the legislation.

As Levin was an original sponsor fo the legislation, I’m hopeful that he’ll vote in favor of it. I’m not so sure, however, about Stabenow, who, it seems, is always looking for opportunities to disappoint me.

Anyway, if you’d take a few minutes and call, I’d appreciate it. Here are their office numbers.

Carl Levin: (202) 224-6221
Debbie Stabenow: (202) 224-4822

The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE Act), by the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is intended to mitigate the complete disaster brought about by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and wealthy individuals to anonymously pour unlimited millions of dollars into U.S. elections. The DISCLOSE Act, wouldn’t stop that from happening, but, at least, it would make it possible for us to see whose money is funding the unregulated, often untrue, attack ads that are filling our nation’s airwaves. In the words of Al Franken, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, the DISCLOSE Act would “bring the unlimited and unaccountable special interest spending we’ve seen in elections across the country out into the sunlight.” It’s a small step, but, at least, if it passes, we’d know which corporations and billionaires were using their resources to try to buy elections, and we’d be able to respond accordingly. As you can imagine, though, corporations, and the men who run them, don’t want this information known. They don’t want to be held accountable for funding libelous ads directed at those who, fro instance, would see their industries regulated.

We need to mobilize this time like we did when the horrendous SOPA legislation was in front of Congress. When that happened, as you’ll recall, the online community came together, spoke in a unified voice, and literally crushed it. We need to do the same thing here. There is absolutely no reason we should allow individuals and corporations to anonymously wage war via attack ads… Here, to illustrate why this is so critically important, is video of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, whom we just discussed a few days ago, on MSNBC’s Harball.

Here’s part of the transcript of Brown’s interview with Michael Smerconish:

SMERCONISH: When it comes to dirty, angry money, there are few Senators who have had it thrown at them as consistently as Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown. According to the Huffington Post, outside conservative groups have spent more money to unseat Senator Brown than any other Senator in the country this year. Conservative groups have spent $10.5 million to date. That’s more than four times the amount spent by outside liberal groups. The money is mainly coming from so-called “social welfare” groups, which do not have to disclose their donors. One major player is Crossroads GPS, which was founded by Karl Rove. The group has spent $2.5 million on ads targeting Brown, and they have a new $1 million ad launching today. Why has Sherrod Brown become such a target? …Senator, why you?

BROWN: Well, I think “why me” is because I’ve been a strong progressive voice. I assume it’s oil companies spending money in Ohio, because of my opposition to tax breaks for the oil industry. I assume it’s Wall Street banks, because of my legislation to end “too big to fail.” I assume it’s the companies that want to outsource American jobs, and benefit from that outsourcing, because of my Chinese currency jobs bill. I don’t know for sure, but I think that’s what makes you a target in this business.

SMERCONISH: Let’s underscore that. The point that you have to qualify this by saying, “I assume, I assume, I assume,” because there’s no disclosure that’s required. At least at this stage.

BROWN: Yeah. It’s bad enough that billionaires and huge corporations that already have too much power in our government, in Congress, in the Executive branch, far too often… they already have that power, and then they can spend money without disclosure, and that’s the importance of this whole citizens’ movement…

SMERCONISH: Senator, why are liberal groups being outflanked in this regard, keeping up with these kinds of expenditures?

BROWN: Well, I think groups that are more progressive don’t have the resources. Keep in mind that when the oil industry spends that kind of money, when their side wins, they get tax breaks, weaker environmental laws, and anti-labor legislation. So, there’s real incentive for individual billionaires… so they invest. Really, it’s an investment to them. They invest tens of millions (of dollars) and get billions in tax breaks and other benefits.

OK, so, after you contact your Senators, and ask them to vote for the DISCLOSE Act, if you still want to do something, please consider giving Sherrod a few dollars to fight off Karl Rove and company.

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  1. someone
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Mark, sorry to be a bit off-topic, but can you or one of your well-informed readers tell me when the first piece of legislation with a witty acronym came about? It feels like something that was resorted to after the plan to kill education in this country succeeded…

  2. anonymous
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    And, when you have them on the phone, tell them to vote against IPAA, which is the newly laundered version of SOPA they’re trying to sneak by.


  3. KKT
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Only four people “like” this. How sad. A picture of a small furry animal in the palm of someone’s hand would have garnered more attention.

  4. KKT
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Still four “likes”. The big story on the Huffington Post is about the overdose of Sylvester Stalone’s son. It has two thousand “likes”. We, as a culture, have our priorities out of order.

  5. Anonymous Mike
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Our society has other priorities. Who are you to judge us?


  6. Eel
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    It will die, as not one single Republican will vote for it. The following comes from MSNBC.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor this afternoon, “If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election, 17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they just bought the country. That’s a sad commentary. About 60 percent, or more, of these outside dollars [contributing $10,000 or more] are coming from these 17 people.”

    Firm vote-counts aren’t available, but it appears the bill has zero Republican supporters. Since the GOP minority will, of course, require a 60-vote supermajority to even begin a discussion of the proposal, there’s no realistic chance of success.

    What about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who once positioned himself as a champion of campaign-finance reform? Democrats tried repeatedly to get his support for the Disclose Act, but the most recent reports suggest he will stick with his party in killing the bill.

    Regardless, we can add this to the list of ideas Republican used to support — Dream Act, cap and trade, individual healthcare mandate, economic stimulus, etc. — until Democrats agreed with them, at which point the GOP decided to oppose the very principles they espoused.

    And then there’s this from the LA Times.

    During their long campaign to loosen rules on campaign money, conservatives argued that there was a simpler way to prevent corruption: transparency. Get rid of limits on contributions and spending, they said, but make sure voters know where the money is coming from.

    Today, with those fundraising restrictions largely removed, many conservatives have changed their tune. They now say disclosure could be an enemy of free speech.

  7. Eel
    Posted July 17, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    The DISCLOSE Act failed. No Republican’s voted for it. John McCain, who used to be a champion for campaign finance reform called the Act more “a clever attempt at political gamesmanship, than actual reform.” (He’s a prick who apparently sacrificed every belief he ever had.) The vote was 51 to 44. The Act needed 60 votes to pass.

    The bill “wasn’t a new concept,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said after the vote. “In fact, many Republicans who blocked this bill today once supported it.” But Reid said those Republicans “chose to side with powerful, anonymous donors.”


  8. from Carl Levin
    Posted July 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    The remarkable system our Founding Fathers created requires that we maintain the vital connection between the people and their elected representatives. It must be the voters, and not the influential few, who choose our nation’s leaders. If the people begin to doubt their central role in our government, it will be corrosive to our democracy.

    In recent months, there has been reason for just such doubt. A Supreme Court ruling has opened our system to a flood of unlimited special-interest money. Almost from the moment the Citizens United decision was handed down, we have seen the dangerous consequences of the Court’s ruling: a deluge of unregulated funds that has threatened to upend the election campaign for our nation’s highest office, a flood whose organizers vow will upend congressional campaigns across the nation this summer and fall.

    This ruling, combined with the IRS’s failure to strictly enforce the federal law governing nonprofit organizations, allows these organizations to seek this influence with spending that is not only unlimited, but also secret, because there is no requirement that donations to those nonprofit organizations be disclosed to the public.

    Congress should act immediately to prevent these organizations from continuing to benefit from their tax-exempt status and hide their donor information.

    That’s why yesterday Senate Democrats sought to bring the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 to the Senate floor. The DISCLOSE Act would help shine the light of day on what has been, since the Court’s ruling, an underground sewer flow of hundreds of millions of dollars. It would require nonprofits engaged in partisan political activities to disclose their major donors and their expenditures. It would not stop the flow of unlimited money, but it would at least ensure that the people know who is trying to influence elections.

    Yet Senate Republicans voted twice in the last 24 hours to filibuster this bill, preventing us from even starting a debate. It is difficult to imagine that Senators would be comfortable telling their constituents that they voted to uphold the veil of secrecy that now shields this flood of money from public view. And it is even more remarkable that Senators would vote, not just to maintain that secrecy, but to prevent the Senate even from debating it.

    The filibuster of this legislation signaled a shocking acquiescence by Senate Republicans to a system in which the wealthy, fortunate few can seek to shape the outcomes of elections in secret, without the Senate even voting on whether to continue that secret system.

    We’ll keep fighting to shine the light of disclosure on this flood of secret money. As always, thanks for your support.

    Carl Levin

  9. Meta
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Conservative Blogger wanting to expose columnist Connie Schultz – “We have found numerous photos of you with Sen. Sherrod Brown. In one of them, you appear to be hugging him.” Schultz’s response – “He’s my husband.”


  10. Meta
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    The DISCLOSE Act may not have passed, but we’ve still been able to figure out some of the companies funding anonymous right wing attack ads. A list is available at Think Progress.


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