Republicans take aim at November elections, block DISCLOSE Act
Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s expert on lobbying and ethics, says that the GOP decision to block debate on the DISCLOSE Act will have serious ramifications on the November elections. Mainly, it will prevent the public from knowing who is paying for the campaign ads that will soon flood the airwaves.
August 1, 2010 @ 9:47 am
The time has come for voters in this country to demand REAL campaign finance reform. Such reform must include strict limits on both the cost of running a campaign (which, unfortunately, invites corruption in politicians who often arrive in Washington with good intentions), limits on the amount of influence that can be paid for through campaign donations and full disclosure on where the money is coming from.
Here is my idea on what would constitute real change in how we elect those whose actions have far-reaching and long-term consequences on all of our lives:
1) Limit the campaign season to 30 days before an election. This includes federal, state and local elections, primaries, run-off, and special elections. You know how there is a 100-ft limit on campaigning outside of polling places? Make it illegal to campaign more than 30 days before any scheduled election date. No TV ads, no signs, no phone calls.
2) Require media outlets, both broadcast, cable and radio, to offer a LIMITED amount of free airtime to every candidate whose name is on the ballot. This will ensure equal access, unrelated to campaign funds and have the added perk of fewer annoying commercials to watch. Of course, asking lawmakers currently in office to write a bill that would give away the advantage they have over non-incumbent candidates, is going to be tough. The reduction of media advertising, the largest expense in any campaign, might have the added benefit of forcing candidates to actually meet in person with potential voters and spend less time at $10,000 a plate fundraisers.
3) Candidates should be encouraged to hold in-person, town hall style meetings, during which there can be open, honest discussions with potential voters who might then be able to get to know the candidate based on their own impression, not based a barrage of attack ads from the candidate with the most money to spend on those ads. Voters should be encouraged to participate in these meetings which would result in a more involved, better educated, better informed electorate. Robo-phone calls, and media ads have created candidates who are far removed from the faces of those whose votes they want and whose interests they they are supposed to represent if elected.
4) And finally, write true a campaign finance reform law that limits the amount of money that can be given to any one candidate. So-called “soft money” donations, money given to a political party and not a specific candidate, should be restricted to non-candidate specific party-building and public service activities, such as ads encouraging voter registration and get-out-the vote ads. Fundraising events should be sharply restricted. There should be limits on the amount attendees pay to attend and the amount hosts can spend to put them on. The corporate or organizational source of funds for hosting fundraisers should be clearly identified, not relabeled with such specious names as “citizens in favor of good government”. And there should be a clearly defined window of time before election day during which fundraisers can be held. In theory, if items 1-3 above happen, the need for lavish fundraising activities will begin to diminish.
From the day they arrive in Washington, politicians are forced to begin raising enormous amounts of money for their next election. If forced to adhere to the above reforms, what will they do with the time no longer spent on fundraising? Maybe they will do the job we sent them to Washington to do – which is to represent the interests of voters not corporations and special interest groups.
Senators who support disclosure of election ad funders should stick by principles, stand up to GOP « CitizenVox
December 24, 2010 @ 4:56 pm
[…] Republican filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act is a travesty and a betrayal of the professed principles of many individual senators. Several Senate Republicans have a long […]
Money and Democracy Update: U.S. Chamber planning its election spending spree « CitizenVox
December 24, 2010 @ 6:33 pm
[…] senators marched in lockstep to the orders of their leaders and blocked a vote on the DISCLOSE Act. This will have serious ramifications in November. There will be no disclosure of who is behind the expected onslaught of corporate spending in the […]