WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate is set to vote on a campaign finance disclosure bill co-authored by Sen. Al Franken next week, though Republicans have objected to such efforts in the past, complicating its chances of passage.
A group of liberal lawmakers, lead by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chuck Schumer of New York, have introduced a slightly watered down version of their Disclose Act, and Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote on the bill early next week.
The bill would require corporations, labor unions, super PACs and 501(c) organizations to file a report with the Federal Election Commission whenever they spend more than $10,000 on a “campaign-related disbursement,” such as advertising or political donations. An earlier version of the bill required organizations to list their top funders in advertising and approve the message similar to the way candidates do, but that component was stripped from this bill.
Franken said the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 Citizens United decision “yanked the microphone away from average Minnesotans” and allows wealthy special interests to set campaign narratives. The Disclose Act would still allow contributions to so-called “super PACs” and unlimited spending permitted under Citizens United, but it would require entities to publicize their spending. The lawmakers said such a requirement is within the government’s rights under the ruling.
“The Supreme Court did say we can shine the light on the interests behind these unprecedented contributions,” Franken said.
In 2010, the Senate fell a vote short of passing an earlier version of the Disclose Act when Republicans rejected en masse, Whitehouse said. All of the bill’s 27 sponsors are Democrats (Sen. Amy Klobuchar sponsored an earlier version of the bill and tweeted her support for this one Thursday), and they will need at least seven Republicans to vote with them to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance the bill.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry