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Baltimore, April 29 – Thursday morning, the long-awaited Schumer-Van Hollen legislation was introduced with bi-partisan support as a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
The DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections) Act includes a series of reforms to safeguard American elections from the flood of special-interest money made legal in the January 21 Supreme Court ruling.
“Our democracy is truly at risk, and the stakes could not be higher. Congress needs to take immediate action to strengthen the voices of ordinary Americans, not wealthy special interests,” said Fielding Huseth, Maryland PIRG advocate.
The reforms in the bill will increase disclosure information about advertising spending from corporate sources, and create "stand by your ad" requirements for CEOs. In addition, foreign corporations with domestic subsidiaries will face restrictions on spending in elections, federal contractors will be banned from using taxpayer money for electoral purposes, and TARP recipients who have not repaid their funds will be prohibited from spending their money on politics.
“The DISCLOSE Act is a critical step to protect the integrity of our democracy. Regular Americans staunchly disagree with this ruling,” Huseth added. “The last thing people want to see is corporations with a bigger role in politics.”
Maryland PIRG also encourages Congress to add Representative Mike Capuano’s Shareholder Protection Act to the final package or move it to the floor in tandem. The Capuano bill will provide an additional level of democratic protection by ensuring shareholders have a say in the spending of corporate treasury money in elections.
Huseth concluded, “The 2010 elections are just around the corner. If Congress doesn’t take action now to stop the flashflood of special interest money, we will likely see an elections season inundated with big money like never before.”
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