Rep. Van Hollen pushes to enhance Super PAC disclosure
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) plans to introduce legislation that would require Super PACS to more fully disclose donations and stand by their ads, according to The Huffington Post.
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in January 2010 gave rise to Super PACS, officially known as independent-expenditure only committees. These groups can raise an unlimited amount of money to influence federal elections, so long as they do not directly coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.
The Super PACs quickly outpaced old-fashioned PACs, which can only accept annual donations of $5,000 or less and give a maximum of $5,000 per election to candidates and another $15,000 to political parties. Super PACs have also exploited a loophole that allows them to postpone the disclosure of their donors until after the elections they participate in.
“We need to restore accountability in our elections,” Hollen said. “The American people have a right to know the source of the money that is being spent to influence the outcome of our elections. They should be told who is behind the millions of dollars in campaign ads and they should receive this information in a timely fashion.”
Hollen’s bill would require Super PACs to list their top five donors in each ad and have the top official of the group appear in the ad to take responsibility for the it.
The legislation would also require corporations to disclose their campaign expenditures to their shareholders, and require lobbyists to disclose their campaign expenditures.
Hollen sponsored similar legislation in 2010, the DISCLOSE Act, but the bill was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
“In the absence of this enhanced disclosure, in 2010 we saw an estimated $135 million of secret money funneled into the Congressional elections,” he said. “In 2011 we have seen the emergence of candidate-specific SUPER PACs spending their unlimited funding from corporations, outside groups and wealthy individuals.”