In the Citizens United decision this January, the Supreme Court overturned decades of law that had barred corporations from using their financial clout to directly interfere with U.S. elections. The decision was a major victory for special interests in Washington because it opened the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest expenditures to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans. The President has consistently criticized this decision, and has asked Congress to take swift action on the DISCLOSE Act, the strong, bipartisan legislation that would establish the toughest-ever requirements for election-related spending by big oil corporations, Wall Street and other special interests.
Just yesterday, the DISCLOSE Act received a strong endorsement from five groups who champion transparency and accountability in government: the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, and Public Citizen. They support this bill because they know that it’s an important step toward restoring our government to its rightful owners: the American people. The DISCLOSE Act will prevent corporations and special interests from hiding behind phony names like “Citizens for a Better Future” by ensuring that the American people can see who is actually trying to buy influence in our elections. As the President has said, in this country every organization has a right to make its voice heard -- but the problem comes when “Citizens for a Better Future” is actually funded entirely by “Corporations for Weaker Oversight.” The American people deserve to know exactly who is spending that money trying to influence their vote. The bill will also combat spending by foreign-owned interests in our elections, fight pay-for-play practices by government contractors and otherwise enact strong measures to protect the public interest.
Inaction on the DISCLOSE Act is simply not an option. This bill will ensure that corporations who participate in American elections are held accountable to the American people. President Obama is wholly committed to accountability and transparency in government; he has taken unprecedented steps to curb the influence of lobbyists by closing the revolving door and imposing tough lobbyist disclosure rules on Recovery Act funding. He has made the White House visitor records public so that everyone can see who comes to the White House to do business. He has imposed tougher ethics standards on this Administration than any in history. The DISCLOSE Act is another crucial step toward ensuring that the American government works for the American people, and it is critical that Congress pass this legislation.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director