Today, you’re going to hear a great deal of outrage from Democrats about the vote last night by Senate Republicans against S. 3369, the DISCLOSE Act. Some degree of this outrage is justified. The DISCLOSE Act would have required organizations spending more than ten thousand dollars on independent expenditures to benefit a campaign for federal office to disclose the identities of people and organizations donating more than ten thousand dollars to their accounts.
There are some details of the legislation that you won’t hear Democrats talking about, however. One is the fact that the legislation wouldn’t have required political advertisements paid for by independent expenditures to identify the wealthy donors who paid for them. Something else the Democrats will like to keep quiet about is that the DISCLOSE Act wouldn’t have taken effect until the current election is over anyway.
That’s particularly convenient for Sheldon Whitehouse, the primary sponsor of the legislation. He’s up for re-election this year. Whitehouse has taken $4,418,544 in direct campaign contributions, but how much more will be spent on independent expenditures to benefit his re-election campaign?
I’m not writing this to provide help to Whitehouse’s main opponent in this year’s election, Republican Barry Hinckley. Hinckley is a well-connected businessman who wants the elected government to “get out of the way” of big corporations, and proposes changing taxes so that wealthy Americans lift a smaller share of the collective national burden.
The point is that both the Democrats and the Republicans are chin deep in corporate money. Go to the Federal Election Commission search form for independent expenditures and search for information about Super PAC spending on U.S. Senate races so far, and you’ll get 1,692 pages of data.
What can you do, in the face of this immense amount of secretive spending? Refuse to be bought. Don’t get information about the candidates running for Congress where you live from the sources that the big money donors want you to use. Turn off the television, and ignore the campaign mailers that will arrive in your mailbox. Go and do some independent research into the candidates yourself. If American voters are intelligent and active citizens, the big money won’t matter.