DISCLOSE Act Is Key First Step in Fixing "Citizens United"

Bill Would Help Prevent Corporate Cash from Overwhelming Democracy

Today, Democratic Senators appeared in front of the Supreme Court to unveil crucial legislation to mitigate the impact of the Supreme Court's destructive ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. In response, People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement:

"In January, the Roberts Court opened up American elections to unlimited spending by giant companies like Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs. In a stunning example of conservative judicial activism, the five-Justice majority swept aside decades of precedent and legislation passed by Congress and state legislatures across the nation.

"The legislation unveiled today is one of several crucial and necessary steps in repairing the damage done by Citizens United. In poll after poll, Americans have voiced their overwhelming opposition to the decision. This is not a left-right issue – strong majorities in both parties reject the ruling and support legislative efforts to limit corporate influence in elections.

"Only a constitutional amendment or new ruling can truly 'fix' Citizens United, but the DISCLOSE Act goes far in mitigating its corrosive effect on our democracy. Americans want government by the people, not corporations. But as long as corporations have the ability to pour money into elections, Americans have the right to know how that money is being spent.

"The Supreme Court enabled companies to spend money on elections while hiding behind front groups, PR firms, and advocacy groups -- without any disclosure whatsoever. It also opened American elections to spending by foreign corporations, government contractors, and companies that receive billions in government bailouts. The DISCLOSE Act would close these outrageous loopholes.

"Unlike the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans do not believe that elections should go to the highest bidder. Congress has a short window of time to act before the first wave of corporate spending washes across the nation. Public opinion as well as democratic principle are on the side of the DISCLOSE Act. We urge the House and Senate to consider and enact the legislation as quickly as possible."

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People For the American Way commissioned a poll of 1,200 Americans in February on Citizens United. We found that:

  • 78% believe that corporations should be limited in how much they can spend to influence elections, and 70% believe they already have too much influence over elections
  • 82% support limits on electioneering by government contractors, and 87% support limits on bailout recipients
  • 85% support a complete ban on electioneering by foreign corporations
  • 75% believe that a publicly traded company should get shareholder approval before spending money in an election
  • 69% think that the President, in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy, should nominate a Justice who supports limits on corporate spending in elections
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