The 2016 campaign is just beginning, but we already know that hundreds of millions of secret dollars will be spent over the next 18 months. A few years ago, this tide of “dark money” would have been unimaginable. Today, it represents one of the biggest threats to our democracy. President Obama has spoken out against the rise of dark money, but has done little else to combat it. With a hostile Supreme Court and Congress, many have assumed this is the best he can do – but that’s just not true. In fact, the president has the power to strike a major blow against dark money in our elections now, without congressional approval, and without running afoul of Supreme Court precedent. He can issue an executive order to expose secret political spending by federal contractors. The only question is whether he will follow through.
Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, political spending by groups that conceal their donations from the public has skyrocketed, to the tune of well over $600 million. As a result, voters increasingly don’t know who is behind political ads, or what those advertisers really want from the government.
This is a big problem. As Chief Justice John Roberts, no friend of most campaign finance laws, pointed out in last year’s McCutcheon decision, disclosure helps to prevent “abuse of the campaign finance system.” Support for a candidate from a local veteran’s group, for instance, is very different than support from a giant defense contractor. Keeping voters in the dark about who is really trying to sway them eliminates one of the last remaining checks on corruption of our government by special interests.
Full Article: How to shine a light on dark money | MSNBC.