originally posted at The Hill.
The Supreme Court did tremendous damage in the Citizens United case by awarding corporations the same First Amendment rights as people. But the one silver lining in an otherwise abhorrent decision was its support for disclosure.
After Citizens United, we can expect more corporate money in politics but the question is how transparent will this new spending be? Will this new corporate money be done through impenetrable black boxes?
Senator Schumer and Congressman Van Hollen have just introduced an omnibus bill to address the multiple problems that Citizens United has unleashed called Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act (the “DISCLOSE Act”). This Act will address political spending by foreign-owned corporations, the use of tax dollars by TARP recipients in politics and conflicts of interest presented by political spending by government contractors.
The Supreme Court in Citizens United, like the McConnell case from 7 years before, held that full disclosure of who funds political ads is perfectly constitutional. Indeed in both cases, disclosure and disclaimers for political ads were upheld eight to one, with Justice Thomas as the lone dissenter. But this endorsement by the high court of disclosure hasn’t stopped groups from hiding behind all sorts of artifices to conceal the true source of money in politics…