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Senate Democrats blast GOP for voting against transparency, begin ‘midnight vigil’

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Senate Democrats on Monday blasted their Republican colleagues for voting against the DISCLOSE Act and plan to give speeches late into the night during a “midnight vigil.

“Democrats sought to require large political donors to disclose their identities so voters could judge their motivations for themselves,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. “This wasn’t a new concept. In fact, many Republicans who blocked this bill today once supported it. But today those same Republicans chose to side with powerful, anonymous donors, who like their nominee Mitt Romney appear to believe they get to play by their own set of rules.”

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“Judging by Republicans’ vote today and Governor Romney’s refusal to release more tax returns, Republicans have clearly decided that secrecy is more important to them than being straight with the American people,” he added.

The DISCLOSE Act would prevent outside campaign groups from hiding their donors. The bill would require organizations that spend $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours and identify any donors who gave $10,000 or more.

It would also require the head of any organization that puts out a political ad on TV or radio to publicly state that he or she approves the message, similar to what candidates must do now.

The legislation would prevent partisan “social welfare” organizations like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS from being able to hide wealthy donors. The IRS requires that nonprofit “social welfare” organizations “operate primarily to further the common good.” The organizations are prohibited from running ads in support of or opposition to candidates for public office. But groups like Crossroads GPS have attempted to circumvent the ban on partisan activities by attacking Democratic candidates in ads without explicitly urging people to vote against them.

The DISCLOSE Act was killed in a 51 to 44 party-line vote on a procedural motion. The bill needed at least 60 votes to move forward.

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Republicans said the legislation was an attempt to intimidate wealthy donors and an attack on free speech rights.

“As a result of this legislation, advocacy groups ranging from the NAACP to the Sierra Club to the Chamber of Commerce — all of whom already disclose their donors to the IRS — would now be forced to subject their members to public intimidation and harassment,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.

Democrats hope to force a second vote on the bill on Tuesday.

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“We recognize that you don’t win every fight in round one, and this is a fight worth continuing,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the lead sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act.

“Putting an end to secret election spending by special interests is an essential step in protecting middle class priorities. For that reason, we are committed to continuing the debate on the DISCLOSE Act late into the night and asking for a second vote tomorrow if need be. We can’t let the special interests off the hook after just one round.”

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So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire

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In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump lawyer Purpura busted by MSNBC for lying on the Senate floor during impeachment trial

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Moments after the end of the Saturday's Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump concluded, MSNBC host Brian Williams pointed out that one of Donald Trump's attorney's lied on the Senate floor about the president's Ukraine scandal-- and he had a clip handy to prove it.

Sharing footage of attorney Mike Purpura stating the higher-ups in Ukraine were unaware that Donald Trump was withholding aid until after the government helped him by announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the MSNBC host called the attorney out.

To make his point that Pupura was being untruthful, Williams then showed a clip of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians were asking about the delay on the day of the Trump phone call that was the starting point of the impeachment trial.

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Any normal president could find some defense attorneys who aren’t clowns and grifters

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Donald Trump's penchant for telling reporters about his crimes doesn't leave his legal defense team a lot to work with. In the first week of his Senate trial, they've pounded the desk and rended their garments over how mean their Democrats opponents are toward their client. But the worst is yet to come--WaPo reports that during the next phase of the proceedings, Trump's legal team will offer "a scorched-earth defense of President Trump in the impeachment trial, mounting a politically charged case aimed more at swaying American voters than GOP senators — and damaging Trump’s possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden."

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