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Monday, July 16, 2012
DISCLOSE Campaign Spending Act Blocked By Senate Republicans
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans blocked a bill Monday evening to increase transparency in campaign spending by independent groups.
In a 51-44 vote, the DISCLOSE Act failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to clear a Republican filibuster. The bill would have required disclosure of anyone who donates to independent groups that spent more than $10,000 on campaign ads -- or their functional equivalent -- and other election spending.
The bill was not expected to beat back the Republican filibuster, which was led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell, called the "Darth Vader of campaign finance reform" in the past, recently made news by giving a series of speeches declaring that campaign finance disclosure amounted to nothing short of harassment and a suppression of speech. In one op-ed for USA Today McConnell called the DISCLOSE Act "un-American" and "an attempt to identify and punish political enemies, or at the very least, intimidate others from participating in the process."
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) was the primary sponsor of the legislation and will lead a series of floor speeches from Senate Democrats into the early hours of Tuesday to protest the Republicans' filibuster.
The Republican filibuster came after decades of statements by various Republicans that, while they opposed restrictions on campaign finance, they vehemently supported full disclosure.
"We need to have real disclosure," McConnell said as recently as 2010 in a debate over the first iteration of the DISCLOSE Act. The 2010 version of the bill, which included provisions that went beyond simple disclosure, also was blocked by a Republican filibuster in a 59-41 vote.
LP - It could be called the "just don't let them know who's buying your government act."