Public Citizen email on the Disclose Act

Not one Republican senator stood up to prevent unaccountable interest groups from anonymously funding the smears, half-truths and outright lies that will inundate our televisions, radios and computer screens.

…Believe it or not, lots of Republican senators have said they think voters should know whose money is behind the attack ads that smear candidates during election seasons.

Among the Republican senators who once supported such reforms are Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Scott Brown (R-Ma.), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and, of course, John McCain (R-Ariz.).

On Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) even stood up and gave a speech about how she believes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is “corrosive” to our democracy.

But when the moment came to vote on the issue, they all said “Nay.”

It’s hard to believe that it was just 10 years ago when McCain teamed up with then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to co-author the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly referred to as McCain-Feingold).

That was when such a thing as “bipartisan campaign reform” could receive a supermajority in the Senate.

That was before the Citizens United ruling allowed unlimited corporate spending in our elections and, incidentally, created the loophole that lets so much of that spending stay in the dark. (The court ruled 8-1 in favor of the constitutionality of requiring disclosure; Justice Clarence Thomas was the sole outlier.)

It was before what some might call the death of integrity in Washington, D.C.

But here’s what gives me hope:

These Republican senators are very uncomfortable with this extremist position in favor of unlimited secret money in elections, which McConnell — the de facto leader of the party’s corporate wing — has obliged them to take.

…According to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the lead sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, Republican senators have privately told McConnell (the GOP leader in the Senate), “You’re leading us off the cliff here. This is a crazy place for us to be, defending secret unlimited money. We’re one scandal way from owning this mess.” (1)”