Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s DISCLOSE Act is a central piece of a new package of legislation liberal Democrats and an independent put together to “reform government and make sure it works for all people, not just special interests,” according to a press release from the Rhode Island senator.
The DISCLOSE Act, or Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act, would require Super PACs, corporations and other big donors to divulge their associations with political advertisements. It was originally introduced in 2010 by Senator Charles Schumer. Whitehouse took over the legislation in 2012. That year, ThinkProgress called it one of the five most important bills blocked by congressional Republicans.
“Since the disastrous Citizens United decision in 2010, we’ve seen a tsunami of dark money and special interest influence wash over our political system and co-opt our government,” Whitehouse said in a news release. “We’ve got to shed light on the rigging of our system and return the power over government to the American people.”
Whitehouse’s contribution to the new legislation “would require organizations spending money in elections – including super PACS and tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups – to promptly disclose donors who have given $10,000 or more during an election cycle,” according to the news release. “The provision includes robust transfer provisions to prevent political operatives from using complex webs of entities to game the system and hide donor identities.”
Also in the package, Senator Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, has a bill that “shuts down individual-candidate Super PACs and strengthens the rules that prohibit coordination between other outside spenders and candidates and parties,” according to the release.
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, has a bill that “requires all candidates for federal office, including those for the U.S. Senate, to report contributions of over $1000 to the FEC within 48 hours,” the news release said.
Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, has a bill that “creates a new independent agency to serve as a vigilant watchdog over our nation’s campaign finance system” that “would consist of five commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate and would have greater enforcement and investigation powers than those of the gridlocked FEC.”
Sen. Michael Bennett, D- Colorado, has a bill in the package that “permanently bans both House and Senate members from lobbying either house of Congress after they retire.” Another one from Bennett “requires lobbyists to register if he or she makes two or more lobbying contacts for a client over a two-year period, regardless of whether the lobbyist spends more than 20 percent of his or her time serving the particular client.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat “has a provision that prohibits private sector employers from offering bonuses to employees for leaving to join the government. Her bill also includes language to slow the revolving door by increasing cool down periods for those leaving government service and expanding recusal requirements for those entering.”