Nambé, N.M. – Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, along with U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Peter Welch (D-VT), announced that they will reintroduce a campaign finance reform package this week to bolster transparency and accountability in elections. The legislation is being introduced one year ahead of the 2020 elections.
This package would hold special interests accountable and ensure transparency in political advertising. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling opened the doors to unlimited money in politics, and during the 2018 elections, $175 million in dark money was spent to influence the American people’s vote with little-to-no accountability and transparency.
The package includes:
The Fair and Clear Campaign Transparency Act would require that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) maintain broadcast stations’ public files about political time sold or given away in a machine-readable format. Currently, this information is not made available in an accessible way, presenting a major barrier for the public to know who is funding political advertisements.
The Honest Campaigns Act would increase transparency in political advertising by making it easier to determine who is paying for political advertisements. Currently, the FCC has the authority to require the on-air disclosure of the “true identity” of the people and groups buying campaign and political advertisements, but the FCC has thus far failed to act. This legislation would require the disclosure of the actual people behind anonymous ads.
“With the rise of dark money in politics, it is past time that Congress acts to make political advertising more transparent and accountable for the American people. Our communities have the right to know which organizations and donors are funding political advertisements,” said Luján. “I’m proud to spearhead this effort to pull back the curtain on dark money in politics and restore transparency in our elections.”
The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United opened a spigot of opaque special interest spending in American elections,” said Welch. “Voters have the right to know who is behind the wall-to-wall political ads flooding the airwaves before an election. Our legislation will bring transparency and accountability to elections by putting a bright spotlight on the dark money funding these ads.”
“The American people have a right to know the identity of those who spend millions and millions of dollars to blanket the airwaves with political ads trying to influence their vote. For far too long, lax laws have allowed for next to no transparency in political advertising, leaving voters subjected to a constant stream of often dishonest claims and accusations from otherwise nameless, faceless organizations. I’m proud to join in introducing these two important pieces of legislation to provide voters with a level of accountability that is long overdue,” said Yarmuth.
“With special interests, multi-national corporations, and hostile foreign actors spending hundreds of millions of dollars in secret money to try to influence our elections in recent years, all Americans deserve to know who is trying to influence their voices and their votes,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs with the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause. “Common Cause commends Representative Luján for introducing these common-sense bills to promote transparency and accountability in our democracy.”
“There’s no reason a group that wants to spend millions to influence an election should be able to conceal the identity of its special interest backers from voters,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United Action Fund. “The lack of transparency and disclosure for political ads leaves Americans in the dark about who’s trying to influence their vote and their government. These common-sense bills would shine a light on the unlimited, secret special interest spending that’s corrupting our elections. End Citizens United applauds Representatives Luján, Yarmuth and Welch for their leadership, and we will fight vigorously in support of these bills.”