Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) unveiled on Tuesday the first bipartisan campaign disclosure bill in the Senate since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling opened the door to unlimited electoral spending by groups that were not covered by any prior campaign disclosure regime. The bill, known as the Follow the Money Act, would require any and all groups spending at least $10,000 on electoral activity to register and disclose contributions above $1,000. The bill would also raise the threshold for contributor disclosure from $200 to $1,000 for all political committees, including those of candidates and political parties.
In the 2012 election cycle, at least $400 million was spent by “dark money” groups not required to disclose their donors, especially tax-exempt organizations such as trade associations and social welfare nonprofits.
In a press conference to announce the Follow the Money Act, Wyden said that the bill would end “the flagrant abuses of federal tax laws by political operatives masquerading as tax exempt social welfare organizations.”
“The legislation is built on the same principles that make our financial markets work,” he said. “Markets move on information and transparency, and everybody’s got to play by the same rules.”
Previous efforts to pass legislation to address Citizens United and related court decisions have faltered in the face of united Republican opposition. In 2010, the proposed Disclose Act failed to clear a Republican filibuster by one vote, and in 2012, Republicans twice came together to filibuster a streamlined version of that bill.
Murkowski, who has long been seen as a potential supporter for the Disclose Act, said about the Follow the Money Act, “This is a bill that is designed to be bipartisan. This is a bill that is designed to be even across the board.”