Transparency lacking in campaign spending 2016

Six years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, lack of transparency in campaign finance muddles the election process. The decision in v. FEC eliminated limits on contributions to groups only making independent expenditures but upheld disclosure of donors. Despite that caveat, contributors have been able to spend unlimited amounts and evade identification by giving to 501(c)(4) nonprofits that donate to super PACS. In the current election, super PACS have already spent over $145 million. (Sunlight Foundation, January 21, 2016, by Libby Watson)

The FEC has culpability in creating the loophole by ruling that the identities of donors behind outside spending must be identified only if the money was designated for political expenditure. In practice only donors who say their money could be used for attack ads can be identified. (THINKPROGRESS, January 21, 2016, by Josh Israel)

Prospective investors and customers of Vanguard, the leader in investing retirement savings, are petitioning the company to change its stance on transparency in political spending. Although Vanguard owns a fourth of the U.S. stock market, the company has abstained or voted against disclosure of political spending in 2015 stockholder meetings. (Public Citizen, January 19, 2016, press release)