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Victory for Political Transparency

As an Appeals Court upholds disclosure laws in Maine and Rhode Island, the Brennan Center urges “Super Committee” transparency.

  • Mark Ladov
August 12, 2011

In another victory for political transparency, the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of disclosure laws in Maine and Rhode Island. The Court found that disclosure serves the public’s right to know the source of money in politics — without limiting or chilling the speech of advocates like the National Organization for Marriage, which brought both lawsuits. The Maine and Rhode Island decisions mark the latest in a string of court victories, which leave little doubt that robust disclosure laws serve the values of the First Amendment and promote a vigorous and open marketplace of ideas.

Current events in Washington remind us of the need for political transparency and disclosure of money in politics. With the debt ceiling raised, Congress now looks to the 12 Super Committee members to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23rd. Unsurprisingly, lobbyists are already focusing their attention — and money — on these dozen Senators and Representatives.

Given the stakes, the Brennan Center is calling on the Super Committee to make its dealings as transparent as possible, writing an op-ed in Politico and sending a letter to the Senate Rules Committee. All potentially corrupting outside influences — campaign contributors, ties to business corporations, relationships with political groups — must be made public.