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The Republican 180 Degree Reversal on Disclosure

Jul 17, 2012

This week, every Republican in the Senate voted against the DISCLOSE Act that would simply require outside groups to disclose who funds their political activities.  Republicans have long supported disclosure of campaign contributions.  Yet this week represents the third time in two years that all Republicans voted against allowing voters to know who is funding our elections and why. 

Until Recently, Republicans Supported Disclosure

Sen. McConnell: "Disclosure of Campaign Contributions and Spending Should be Expedited." "Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate. These are the reforms which respect the Constitution and would enhance our democracy." [NPR, 8/5/97]

Sen. Alexander Said He Supported "Full Disclosure." Alexander said, "I support campaign finance reform, but to me that means individual contributions, free speech and full disclosure. In other words, any individual can give whatever they want as long as it is disclosed every day on the Internet."  [Washington Post, 5/19/99]

Sen. Sessions Said "I Tend To Favor Disclosure." Sessions said, "I don't like it when a large source of money is out there funding ads and is unaccountable.  To the extent we can, I tend to favor disclosure."  [The Hill, 4/22/10]

Sen. Cornyn Said "I Think The System Needs More Transparency, So People Can More Easily Reach Their Own Conclusions." Cornyn said, "this is our system.  I think the system needs more transparency, so people can more easily reach their own conclusions." [McClatchy, 4/23/10]

Sen. Collins' Spokesman Said "She Believes That It Is Important That Any Future Campaign Finance Laws Include Strong Transparency Provisions So The American Public Knows Who Is Contributing." "'As a co-sponsor of the 2002 campaign reform law, Sen. Collins was disappointed that the Supreme Court struck down so many key provisions of this bipartisan legislation,' Kelley said. 'She believes that it is important that any future campaign finance laws include strong transparency provisions so the American public knows who is contributing to a candidate's campaign, as well as who is funding communications in support of or in opposition to a political candidate or issue.'" [The Hill, 4/20/10]

Sen. Scott Brown Said "A genuine campaign finance reform effort would include increased transparency." Brown said, "A genuine campaign finance reform effort would include increased transparency, accountability and would provide a level playing field to everyone." [Letter to Public Citizen, 7/14/10]

Sen. McCain Said "There's Too Much Money Washing Around, Too Much Of It We Don't Know Who's Behind It." McCain said, "I promise you, there will be huge scandals because there's too much money washing around, too much of it we don't know who's behind it and too much corruption associated with that kind of money.  There will be major scandals."  [The Hill, 3/27/12]

Sen. Coburn Said "If You Have Transparency, You Will Have Accountability." Coburn said, "If legislators were required to disclose all contributions to their campaigns, the public knowledge would naturally restrain legislators from acting out of the current quid pro quo mindset. They would refrain from taking questionable donations for fear of being found out. If you have transparency, you will have accountability." [Press Release, 10/12/07]

Sen. Chambliss Said The Disclosure Provisions of the DISCLOSE Act "Don't Seem Like a Bad Idea to Me."  "Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) also said he wants to see the details of the bill, but said the disclosure provisions 'don't seem like a bad idea to me.'" [The Hill, 4/22/10]

Now - Republicans Reverse Themselves to Defend Influx of Secret Money...

AP - Senate GOP Block Campaign Spending Disclosure Bill. "Senate Republicans blocked Democratic-backed legislation requiring organizations pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign ads to disclose their top donors and the amounts they spend." [AP, 7/16/12]

Reuters - Senate Republicans Block Campaign Disclosure Bill. "Senate Republicans blocked a bid by Democrats on Monday to require political fundraising groups to reveal their anonymous contributors who are fueling negative television advertisements ahead of the November election." [Reuters, 7/16/12]

Bloomberg - Senate Republicans Block Campaign Donor Disclosure Bill.  "The U.S. Senate didn't advance legislation that would require nonprofit groups to reveal who donates the millions of dollars they spend on campaign ads.... The measure, opposed by Republicans, is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010 that removed limits on independent spending by corporations and labor unions." [Bloomberg, 7/17/12]

CBS News - Senate GOP Block Campaign Spending Disclosure Bill. "Senate Republicans blocked Democratic-backed legislation requiring organizations pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign ads to disclose their top donors and the amounts they spend. GOP opposition prevented Democrats from getting the 60 votes needed to bring what is known as the Disclose Act to the Senate floor. The vote was 51-44." [CBS News, 7/17/12]

..."It Should Be Interesting to Hear How the Republican Senators Justify this Monumental Concealment of Campaign Cash." 

Washington Post Editorial: "It Should Be Interesting to Hear How the Republican Senators Justify this Monumental Concealment of Campaign Cash."  "Americans who are worried about the corrosive power of big money in politics ought to watch what is about to happen in the Senate. On Monday, a cloture vote is scheduled on legislation that would require the disclosure of donors anonymously pumping tens of millions of dollars into this year's presidential and congressional campaigns. Not a single Republican in the chamber has expressed support for the bill, known as the Disclose Act, meaning it will probably die for this session. It should be interesting to hear how the Republican senators justify this monumental concealment of campaign cash." [Washington Post, 7/16/12]