Republicans block bill that would require shady money groups to disclose donors

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Republicans in the Senate voted Thursday to block consideration of a bill to immediately require organizations that spend money on elections to immediately disclose the identities of donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle.

The body failed to invoke cloture on the measure, in a vote of 49-49. Every Republican in attendance voted against the measure, while every Democrat voted for it.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) were not present at the decision.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) brought up the bill to highlight Republican Senate candidates’ reliance on massive cash flows from GOP dark money groups, such as the Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC tied to the minority’s minority. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Democratic senators familiar with Schumer’s thinking.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), has been a top Democratic priority since the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United in 2010 that allowed corporations and other outside special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on federal elections.

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Schumer said Thursday morning that the court’s decision more than a decade ago “disfigured our democracy almost beyond recognition”.

The Democratic leader cast Thursday’s vote as a defining issue ahead of the election, when voters are bombarded by television political advertisements funded by tens of millions of dollars in anonymous donations.

“Republicans today have to face music. Either vote to bring transparency and fairness back to our elections, as the vast majority of Americans want, or block this measure and decide their fate with the forces of dark money,” Schumer said before the vote.

McConnell, a longtime opponent of campaign finance restrictions, dismissed the bill as a “liberal pet priority” that he said would “give unelected federal bureaucrats vastly more power over First Amendment rights and political activism of citizens.” “.

He called it an “insult to the First Amendment” and criticized Democrats for bringing it up rather than introducing legislation to curb inflation or address other economic problems.

However, Schumer noted Tuesday that McConnell has in the past supported demanding disclosure from donors.

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“Even Leader McConnell supported the disclosure…then he did a 180-degree turn,” Schumer said, citing McConnell’s 1997 statement that he believed disclosure was “the best disinfectant.”

Republicans blocked the Disclose Act earlier this session when Democrats brought it up as part of a broader electoral reform bill.

The bill would also require groups that spend money on ads supporting or opposing judicial nominees to disclose their donors, a top priority of Whitehouse, who has spoken regularly on the Senate floor to highlight the influence of conservative group spending on the Supreme Court.

Whitehouse noted in a press release issued ahead of the vote that the political spending of groups that do not disclose their donors has risen from $5 million in 2006 to more than $1 billion in 2020. In addition, the political spending of billionaires has risen. from $17 million in the 2008 election to $1.2 billion in 2020.

President Biden urged Congress to pass the bill earlier this week, decrying the increasing influence of black money in politics.

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“There is much – too much money flowing into the shadows to influence our elections. It’s called dark money. It’s hidden. Right now, until Election Day, advocacy groups can run ads on issues that attack or support a candidate without disclosing how that ad is paid for,” he said.

Democrats repeatedly pointed to a $1.6 billion contribution to a nonprofit political group controlled by Leonard Leo, the co-chair of the conservative Federalist Society, who has helped reform the federal government in recent years. federal judiciary.

Barre Seid, a businessman and conservative donor who made his fortune as the head of an electrical appliance manufacturing company, gave the massive donation, which will fuel efforts to push courts in a conservative direction in the coming years.

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