Source: United States Senator for Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator’s DISCLOSE Act – included in the Freedom to Vote Act – would clean up dark money in American elections
Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement on Senate Republicans’ refusal today to advance the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—bills to protect Americans’ right to vote and safeguard our democracy from special-interest influence, including by ridding elections of dark money.
“We must all recognize the courage, suffering, and sacrifice – the love, energy, and passion – that so many of our fellow Americans have devoted to protecting our democracy. When one group of citizens purposefully makes it harder for another group of citizens to vote, they thrust a dagger into the heart of that democracy. We cannot allow voter suppression to stand.
“Among the most important voting rights is citizens’ ability to understand who seeks to influence their vote. Citizenship is an office and American voters must have the information necessary to exercise that office. They can never do that when the truth of who is spending in elections is hidden behind a cascade of dark money.
“The legislation under consideration today would have protected Americans’ hard-fought access to the ballot, and their ability to participate in their democracy unencumbered by unlimited, anonymous, special-interest spending. The overwhelming majority of Americans support my DISCLOSE Act, which is included in the Freedom to Vote Act. That legislation and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act ought to have received an up-or-down vote.
“Instead, Republicans sided with the dark-money interests pushing voter suppression in statehouses around the country and filibustered to block these bills. I voted in favor of a rule change that would have allowed us to overcome the Republican blockade. I will continue to support whatever rule changes are necessary to move this important legislation.”
Whitehouse’s DISCLOSE Act would require organizations spending money in elections – including super PACs and 501(c)(4) dark money groups – to promptly disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. It also contains a number of other safeguards, including measures to prevent political operatives from using layers of front groups to hide donor identities and strengthening the foreign money ban by prohibiting foreign nationals from participating in decision-making about contributions or expenditures by corporations.
A version of the DISCLOSE Act was included in Senate Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping package of pro-democracy reforms announced last fall.