A coalition of organizations working to limit impact of big money in American elections announced today that it had delivered more than 100,000 comments in support of greater transparency around online political spending to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The comments in support of a new rule requiring disclaimers on internet ads were delivered by a coalition of groups including CAP Action, Common Cause, CREDO, Demand Progress, End Citizens United, Every Voice, Daily Kos, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters, MayDay America, People For the American Way and Public Citizen.
The FEC has not updated its disclosure rules since 2006 despite the massive changes in the landscape made by digital communication. The rule currently being considered by the FEC would require that political internet ads include either a full disclaimer or disclosure of who paid for the ad in addition to a link to the full disclaimer. The need for these changes has acquired new urgency in the wake of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 elections.
“Americans have a right to know who is trying to influence our votes and our views – including with online campaign advertisements,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “We have fought for years to improve transparency in political spending and recognize the vital importance of disclosing the funders behind this booming source of political advertising. New, updated rules by the Federal Election Commission will not solve every problem. It is no substitute for action by Congress, like passing the Honest Ads Act to require full transparency for online political ads. But action at the FEC is a critical and long overdue step to protect our right to know. We are pleased to submit these comments to the Commission and look forward to the upcoming June hearing as the Commission works to fulfill its purpose and mandate of administering our campaign finance laws.”
“CREDO members are deeply concerned about foreign interference in U.S. elections,” CREDO organizing director Kaili Lambe said. “The FEC must immediately update its disclosure requirements and do everything in its power to stop Vladimir Putin or any other foreign actor from improperly interfering in November’s midterm elections.”
“Our democracy doesn’t function without secure, fair, and transparent elections. We are glad to see that the FEC is taking action to address dark money and foreign interference in the democratic process, but the FEC’s proposed rules are not strong enough,” said Carolyn Fiddler, Political Editor and Senior Communications Advisor at Daily Kos. “We stand with the more than 100,000 Americans have joined us in demanding swift and substantive action from the FEC to protect our democracy.”
“Voters have a right to know who is paying thousands, and in many cases, millions, of dollars to influence their choices at the ballot box. That right doesn’t change just because that influence is happening online instead of on TV, radio, or billboards. It’s time for the FEC to modernize its rules so all candidates and campaigns have to clearly disclose its donors on all ads, online and off,” said Carli Stevenson, campaigner at Demand Progress.
“Online political advertising spending broke the billion dollar mark in the 2016 election cycle,” said Wendy Fields, executive director of Democracy Initiative. “It is outrageous that when the wealthy already have an outsized influence in our political process, they can also buy ads online without identifying themselves. The FEC’s Internet Communication Disclaimers rule must be modernized now to provide greater transparency into online political advertising spending. The people need to know who is trying to influence our votes and our elections.”
“Our elections are the bedrock of our democracy, and Americans deserve to know who is influencing them – whether it is a foreign country or a secretive corporate special interest,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “We need increased transparency for digital political spending, and we cannot afford to have our enforcement agencies hands tied by outdated regulations. Americans are making their voice heard through this comment period. The time to act is now.”
“American voters deserve to know who is trying to influence their vote. The Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) proposals to require disclaimers on internet communications are critical to shining a light on the impact that money in politics- both foreign and domestic- have on voter decisions at the polls,” said Jeanette Senecal, senior director of elections for the League of Women Voters. “Swift action by the FEC to move forward with these regulations in time for the 2018 elections ensures that voters have sufficient information to determine the source of internet advertisements that could influence their election decisions. The League is proud to participate in this effort to ensure the public’s voice is heard.”
“It’s time that the FEC caught up to the rest of the world and enacted rules that address online ads head on,” said Rio Tazewell, manager of the Government By the People campaign at People For the American Way. “Voters deserve to know who’s paying for online ads—and that’s doubly true given the ways Russia used digital organizing to meddle in the 2016 elections. The integrity of our elections shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Americans all across the political spectrum are united in wanting to limit the role of secret money in our democracy. The FEC can take an important step forward by requiring this basic level of transparency.”
“A functioning democracy depends on unfettered, transparent and fair elections. But in the 2016 election, Russian trolls undermined our democratic process by running political attack ads online and posing as Americans. We are glad to see that the FEC is addressing this, but the FEC’s proposed rules are not strong enough. More than 100,000 Americans have joined us in demanding strong, unambiguous action from the FEC to protect our democracy,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign.
The FEC will continue to collect comments until midnight tonight and will host a public hearing on the proposed rule next month.