House Administration Panel Examines DISCLOSE Bill

Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:49pm

House Democrats are continuing their march this week to diffuse a recent Supreme Court campaign finance decision, which they claim will unleash a deluge of special-interest money into federal campaigns.

On Thursday, the House Administration Committee held its first public hearing on the new bill, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, which is co-sponsored by panel Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Republican Reps. Mike Castle (Del.) and Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.).

In his opening statement, Brady called the DISCLOSE Act “one of the best solutions to the Supreme Court overturning nearly 100 years of campaign finance law.”

If enacted, the proposal would bulk up disclosure, political coordination and disclaimer requirements and impose new limits on political involvement by government contractors and foreign governments.

“The DISCLOSE Act recognizes that American voters are at minimum entitled to full and accurate reporting of campaign spending so that voters may know who is attempting to influence their vote,” Brady said in a prepared statement. “Disclosure laws expose corruption, alert voters to who is behind a candidate or ballot measure, and help to ensure that other campaign finance laws are being followed.”

In his prepared remarks, ranking member Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) accused Democrats of crafting the legislation in secret and ignoring GOP concerns.

“Mr. Chairman, I have made repeated offers of cooperation and goodwill toward your side on this issue. I offered to consult and work together,” Lungren said. “I sent two letters, which received no response until they were reported in the press. This is not how we should tackle this issue.”

Lawyers Don Simon and Ted Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, testified at Thursday’s hearing, along with Public Citizen lobbyist Craig Holman and U.S. PIRG’s Lisa Gilbert. Citizens United President David Bossie also appeared before the panel. Bossie’s group challenged the federal ban on political advertising paid for by corporations, nonprofit groups and trade associations, which the high court narrowly struck down in January.