By: Alix JamesFollowing a wave of judicial decisions that have cleared the way for more soft money in politics, federal legislators have continued to press for the passage of laws creating more stringent regulations on donor disclosures and transparency in political contributions. The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act was introduced in Congress in 2010 and 2012, but the legislation was twice defeated after falling short of overcoming a Republican-led filibuster. A third attempt at passing disclosure legislation, the DISCLOSE Act of 2014, was introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and is currently being considered in the Senate Rules Committee. A hearing was held last week. “DISCLOSE 2014” would:
- Broaden the definition of what is a reportable “independent expenditure,” by treating the functional equivalent of express advocacy as an independent expenditure ;
- expand the time periods during which a communication would be considered a reportable “electioneering communication,”
- require disclosure of donors underlying large transfers to political spenders,
- require that covered organizations (including corporations, labor unions and 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations) that spend more than $10,000 or more on election ads publicly identify their donors, and
- impose new required disclaimers for political advertisements.