The Wyden-Murkowski campaign finance bill

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Last Tuesday, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) unveiled the first bipartisan campaign disclosure bill in the Senate since the
Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling opened the door to unlimited
electoral spending by groups that were not covered by any prior
campaign disclosure regime. The Huffington Post reports:

The bill, known as the Follow the Money Act,
would require any and all groups spending at least $10,000 on electoral
activity to register and disclose contributions above $1,000. The bill
would also raise the threshold for contributor disclosure from $200 to
$1,000 for all political committees, including those of candidates and
political parties.

* * *

In addition to expanding disclosure of independent group spending and
reducing the contribution disclosure threshold, the Follow the Money Act
would create a system of real-time disclosure, require independent
groups to abide by "Stand By Your Ad" provisions (including the
identification of their top three donors), require senators to file
campaign reports electronically, require tax-exempt 527 groups to file
disclosure reports with the FEC (instead of the Internal Revenue
Service), and direct the FEC and IRS to work together to craft and
enforce regulations.

In the 2012 election cycle, at least $400 million was spent by "dark
money" groups not required to disclose their donors, especially
tax-exempt organizations such as trade associations and social welfare
nonprofits.

In a press conference to announce the Follow the Money Act, Wyden
said that the bill would end "the flagrant abuses of federal tax laws by
political operatives masquerading as tax exempt social welfare
organizations."

* * *

Previous efforts to pass legislation to address Citizens United and
related court decisions have faltered in the face of united Republican
opposition. In 2010, the proposed Disclose Act failed to clear a Republican filibuster by one vote, and in 2012, Republicans twice came together to filibuster a streamlined version of that bill.

Murkowski, who has long been seen as a potential supporter for the
Disclose Act, said about the Follow the Money Act, "This is a bill that
is designed to be bipartisan. This is a bill that is designed to be even
across the board."

* * *

In explaining her decision to work with Wyden to craft the Follow the
Money Act, Murkowski alluded to her own 2010 campaign. Independent
conservative groups poured in money to defeat her in the Republican
primary, and she ultimately had to win reelection as a write-in
candidate.

"We've all had to go through an election," Murkowski said. "Some of
us have been the beneficiary of some of this independent expenditure
activity. Some of us have been on the receiving end of some pretty
directed campaigns."

Conservatives and campaign finance regulation opponents have already come out against the Follow the Money Act. [You're shocked, I'm sure.]

In fact, a new conservative group opposed to any transparency and disclosure in campaign contributions  has been formed to oppose reform efforts. "The conservative Center for Competitive Politics has established a new web site site, ProxyFacts.org, which includes insight and
analysis from experts such as CCP’s founder and former Federal Election
Commission (FEC) Chairman Brad Smith, former SEC Commissioner Paul
Atkins, and James R. Copland, Director of the Manhattan Institute’s
Center for Legal Policy.” (h/t ElectionLawBlog.com).

So much corporate money, so little time to undermine democracy.

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