Republicans Hate Dark Money Until They Love It

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) slammed Senate Republicans’ unified refusal today to advance the DISCLOSE Act, Whitehouse’s bill to shine a light on the big special interests spending unlimited sums to purchase influence over the American government. The cloture vote failed 49-49. The measure needed 60 votes to advance. All Senate Republicans in attendance voted against the bill, while all members of the Democratic Caucus in attendance voted for it.

“Today, Senate Republicans stood in lockstep with their megadonors and secretive special interests to protect the most corrupting force in American politics—dark money,” said Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The American people are fed up with dark money influence campaigns that rig their government against them and stymie their priorities. The DISCLOSE Act would shine a light on special interest spending to neutralize its toxic effect, giving Americans’ voices a chance to be heard. Republicans heeded the wishes of dark money donors today, but the fight to pass this bill isn’t over.”

In forceful remarks at the White House on Tuesday, President Joe Biden pressed Senate Republicans to support the DISCLOSE Act.

“Let’s remember: Getting dark money out of our politics has been a bipartisan issue in the past. My deceased friend, John McCain, spent a lot of time fighting for campaign finance reform. For him, it was a matter of fundamental fairness. And he was 100 percent right about that,” said President Biden. “Ultimately, this comes down to public trust. Dark money erodes public trust. We need to protect public trust.”

The DISCLOSE Act requires organizations spending money in elections – including super PACs and 501(c)(4) dark money groups – to promptly disclose donors who have given $10,000 or more during an election cycle. In addition to election disclosure requirements, the bill requires groups that spend money on ads supporting or opposing judicial nominees to disclose their donors.

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