Why the DISCLOSE Act failed, and why it’s likely to fail again
A poll earlier this year showed that 80 percent of Americans disapproved of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Most people want corporate campaign spending to be limited; even more want it to be transparent. So why can’t Congress pass legislation to require independently funded campaign ads to reveal their financial backers?
A big part of the answer has to do with trust. The process of drafting the DISCLOSE Act alienated Republicans from the start. The bill was drawn up by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) — two men best known for their efforts to get Democrats elected to Congress. The whole thing smacked of partisan gamesmanship. Then Democrats loaded up the bill with provisions that Republicans regarded as irrelevant, little more than Democratic pet issues. Although Democrats say they reached out to Republicans for input, GOP offices soon stopped responding to emails from Democratic staffers. Whatever trust had existed initially was entirely wiped out.
And now? If a stripped-down DISCLOSE Act has any chance of passing, it has to be right now, in the lame-duck session. Some Democrats still hope that by limiting the bill to its popular core, they can win Republican support. But relations between the congressional offices on the issue are so frayed that it’s hard to imagine much cooperation at this point.
Jesse Zwick has the full story of the DISCLOSE Act’s troubled history, and its prospects for passage in the lame-duck session.