Despite Spin, Support for DISCLOSE Act Is Still Strong

September 16, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

The Center for Competitive Politics is touting a new poll conducted at their request by Pulse Opinion Research, claiming that it refutes previous public opinion surveys indicating widespread public support for the donor disclosure requirements contained within the DISCLOSE Act. Only problem is that it doesn’t.

“Congress should scrap the DISCLOSE Act,” Bradley Smith, chairman of the CCP, said in a statement released by the group. “Despite wild claims of popular support for the bill, it is clear that the public does not support the special treatment for unions and intrusive disclosure regime contained in the bill.”

As evidence, the group cites responses to broad questions that do not reflect directly on the language or the requirements of the DISCLOSE Act itself:

  • My family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and strangers have a right to know what organizations I contribute to.

13% Strongly agree 11% Somewhat Agree 18% Somewhat Disagree 51% Strongly Disagree 7% Not sure

  • Citizens who contribute to advocacy groups that run political ads should have their name, home address, employer, and occupation reported to the government and posted online.

16% Strongly agree 12% Somewhat Agree 20% Somewhat Disagree 42% Strongly Disagree 9% Not sure

So far we’ve learned that most people don’t want their personal information posted online if they contribute to an organization or advocacy group that runs political ads. Luckily, the Senate DISCLOSE Act doesn’t mandate this. Instead, it states that contributions equal to or exceeding $1000 “provided for the purpose of being used for campaign-related activity or in response to a solicitation for funds to be used for campaign-related activity” must be disclosed. When you start asking people about different dollars amounts, it turns out a majority of citizens, even in CCP’s poll, are fine with this:

  • For interest groups that run political advertisements, information about members and contributors including their name, home address, employer, and occupation should be reported to the government and posted on line for anyone who gives, any amount of money,$200 or more, $600 or more, $1,000 or more, or more than $10,000.

21% Information about an interest group running political advertising members and contributors should be reported and posted for any contribution 13% For contributions over $200 10% Over $600 23% Over $1000 20% More than $10,000 13% None of this information should be reported to the government or posted online

As question 9 makes clear, 67 percent of respondents thought that donations over $1,000 should be reported and posted for disclosure purposes. In its defense, CCP points out that only 34 percent think a threshold of $200 — the current standard for reporting donations to PACs and candidates — is proper. But, again, that’s not at all what the DISCLOSE Act is proposing.

On another aspect of the DISCLOSE ACT — the “Stand by your Ad” component — CCP doesn’t even try to skew the positive support it garners:

  • By law, interest groups that sponsor political advertising must include the name of their group in the advertisement, in addition to filing public reports with further information on the group and the ad. There is discussion to also require the leader and the largest donor to the organization both personally appear in the ad, identify themselves, and state that they approve the ad. Would this additional information allow you to better judge the credibility and accuracy of the ad?

68% This would be of some or great value in better understanding and judging the ad’s accuracy and credibility 22% This would be of little or no value in better understanding and judging the ad’s accuracy and credibility 10% Not sure