Legislation responding to the Supreme Court's controversial campaign finance decision - Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission - is expected to emerge next week, and corporate opponents already are on the attack.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plan to introduce coordinated bills next week in response to the January ruling that lifted limits on corporate expenditures in elections, according to congressional sources.
An updated outline of the proposed Disclose Act obtained by The National Law Journal says the legislation will address six major areas. It will:
Require the head of a corporation, union, section 501(c)(4), (5), or (6) organization, or section 527 organization to say he or she “approves this message” in any campaign ad and the top contributor to “stand by” the ad.
Require any covered organization to disclose within 24 hours to the FEC not just its campaign-related activity, but also transfers of money to other groups that then can be used for campaign-related activity. Additionally, a covered organization must disclose its donors.
Prohibit corporations controlled by foreign entities or foreign nationals from spending in U.S. elections.
Mandate disclosure by corporations, unions, and other groups to their shareholders and members in their annual and periodic reports.
Prohibit federal government contractors with a contract worth more than $50,000 from spending money on elections.
Ban coordination between a candidate and outside groups on ads that reference a candidate and then run in the time period beginning 90 days before a primary and ending with the general election.
Van Hollen, who also serves as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, announced on Monday that he had received Republican support for the legislation from Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today attacked the updated legislative outline, calling it “nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to hijack the political playing field to his advantage on the eve of mid-term elections.” The Chamber said it was “no secret” that Van Hollen’s campaign committee was facing “significant losses” in the House. “We will fight any and all attempts to muzzle and or demonize independent voices from the election discussion,” said Chamber President Thomas Donohue.
Van Hollen spokesman Doug Thornell told The National Law Journal, “It's not really surprising that powerful special interests based in Washington would be throwing temper tantrums over efforts to curb their influence and increase transparency so the American people know who is spending money on our elections.”