Democrats launched another push for campaign finance transparency on Thursday, aiming to combat the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling as Republicans outraise them on the campaign trail. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dedicated the bulk of her weekly press conference to the DISCLOSE Act — which would increase disclosure requirements for campaign contributions — and Senate Democrats held a press conference Thursday afternoon to plug the bill, which will go before the Senate next week. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who joined Pelosi at the conference, said Democrats have filed a discharge petition for the bill in the House. “This is a House of Representatives that is pretending that it is one of the most open House of Representatives in recent times, and yet they have refused to even hold a hearing on the DISCLOSE Act,” Van Hollen said. Indeed, Democrats have been banging this drum for months to no avail, and there’s nothing to indicate their latest attempt will yield a different result.
Democrats repeatedly quoted long-ago statements by Republican senators expressing support for disclosure, saying the bill should garner bipartisan support this time around. But Republicans say the bill is too easy on unions, a claim Democrats vehemently refuted, saying they have invited Republicans to point out how that is the case and suggest a fix. A GOP aide said the bill would exempt unions through a “sleight of hand” because union dues are almost never high enough to reach the $10,000 minimum requirement for disclosure under the act.
Pelosi refuted the idea that the push for disclosures was motivated by the fact that Republican are leading Democrats in fundraising. “Even if we could out-raise them, everybody should disclose,” she said, adding that “anti-government ideologues” are funding many GOP campaigns. Romney’s campaign and his supporting funds raised more than $100 million in June, a single-month record for any GOP campaign.