April 23, 2012

Civic Organizations and Investor Groups Call Upon Congress to Approve

the DISCLOSE Act

Dear Representative,

The undersigned organizations support H.R. 4010, the DISCLOSE 2012 Act, sponsored by Representative Chris Van Hollen.

H.R. 4010 would provide the public with basic information about campaign expenditures made by outside groups to influence federal elections and the donors financing these expenditures. The legislation would also provide for timely disclosure by Super PACs, would require outside groups which make campaign expenditures to take responsibility for their campaign ads and would require corporations to inform their shareholders about their campaign expenditures.

It is a cardinal rule of campaign finance laws that citizens are entitled to know the donors financing campaign expenditures to influence their votes, and the amounts they gave. This basic right to know has long been recognized by disclosure laws enacted by Congress and by Supreme Court decisions which upheld the constitutionality of these laws.

In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court by an 8 to 1 vote upheld the constitutionality of disclosure requirements for outside groups making campaign expenditures. The Court stated:

The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way.  This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.

Polls show citizens strongly support disclosure by outside spenders. According to a New York Times article on a New York Times/CBS News poll released on October 28, 2010, Americans overwhelmingly, "favor full disclosure of spending by both campaigns and outside groups."

The DISCLOSE 2012 Act contains only disclosure requirements and does not contain special exceptions for any groups. Congress should enact the bill and provide citizens with information they have a right to know about who is giving and spending money to influence their votes. 

We urge you to support and co-sponsor H.R. 4010 and to take all steps necessary for its passage.

Alliance for a Just Society

Americans for Campaign Reform                            

Brennan Center for Justice

Campaign Legal Center  

Center for Media and Democracy                      

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Citizen Works

Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending

Coffee Party USA 
Common Cause   

Corporate Ethics International/Business Ethics Network                              ,
Credo Action Network

Democracy 21

Democracy for America

Dēmos

Free Speech for People

Greenpeace

Harrington Investments, Inc.

Heartland Democracy

League of Women Voters

Main Street Alliance

MapLight

Michigan Campaign Finance Network

National People’s Action

New Progressive Alliance

NC Center for Voter Education

Ohio Citizen’s Action Money & Politics Project

People For the American Way
Public Citizen             

Sunlight Foundation

Trillium Asset Management, LLC

Union of Concerned Scientists

United Republic

Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust

& Investment Management  

WV Citizen Action Group

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Wolf-PAC

Zevin Asset Management, LLC