When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the now-infamous Citizens United ruling that unleashed a deluge of unaccountable corporate cash into the political system, the court had a pollyannaish view of what would happen next.
“With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
It hasn’t happened, thanks to the GOP.
Senate Republicans refused to let the Disclose Act even come to a vote. They filibustered the measure to death.
It’s not difficult to figure out why.
The Grand Old Party thinks the current setup favors its side.
Back in 2010, Senate Republicans had a legitimate reason to vote against a previous version of the Disclose Act. Democrats had carved out exceptions from reporting requirements for a few groups like the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association.
Those carve-outs are gone now, but Republicans insist that provisions in the current bill exempting donations of less than $10,000 from individuals and less than $50,000 from affiliate organizations provide greater anonymity to unions.
Those provisions, however, applied to everyone — corporations, unions, trade associations and 501(c)(4)s.
Current reporting requirements are full of loopholes, and late deadlines mean groups can drop millions into a close race at the last minute and not have to identify themselves until the election is over.
Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star (July 31)