Legislators introduce bill to soften impact of recent Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate campaign spending

House members have introduced a bill that would force disclosure of corporate expenditures on elections and ban foreign companies, federal contractors and bailout beneficiaries from spending on political campaigns.-db

The Huffington Post
April 20 2010
By Arthur Delaney

Democrats hoping to blunt the impact of a recent Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate spending on campaign advertisements can now call it a bipartisan effort, at least in the House of Representatives.

On Monday evening, Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) signed on to yet-to-be-introduced Democratic legislation to force more disclosure of corporate expenditures and to ban foreign companies, federal contractors and bailout beneficiaries from spending on political campaigns.

In a joint statement with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Castle said the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC “enables larger financial interests to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens, allows foreign corporations to spend money through their domestic subsidiaries, and permits major recipients of taxpayer dollars to funnel these funds into political activities.”

Democrats had planned to introduce their actual legislation last week but were unable to win bipartisan support. In the upper chamber, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) failed to get Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who has joined Democrats on several votes, to sign on to this one.

While the actual legislation has not been unveiled, its advocates say it will closely resemble theframework announced by Schumer and Van Hollen earlier this year. This framework will require corporate CEOs to appear in ads they bankrolled and say “I approved this message,” as candidates do now.

A good-government activist told HuffPost the legislation will probably be introduced later this week.

Democrats hope to change the law before November, which is likely to see record outside spending because of the Supreme Court’s decision. The court’s ruling is widely unpopular, according to polls that show overwhelming public opposition.

“The bipartisan legislative response to this ruling will promote openness in government and compel disclosure of the money that is being used to finance elections,” said Van Hollen and Castle in their statement. “We believe the American people have the right to know who is spending money to influence our democracy. Furthermore, it will close loopholes to prevent foreign influence, as well as keep major beneficiaries of taxpayer money from financing political campaigns.”

Jeff Patch, spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics, which supports the Supreme Court’s decision, mocked the Castle announcement in an email to reporters. “[T]his explicit effort to brand campaign finance regulation as bipartisan,” he wrote, “seeks to convey the fiction that campaign finance curbs enjoy a broad base of support — instead of remaining the policy fetish of a few Washington insiders and interest groups.”

Copyright 2010 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.