Let ‘Em Own It

Democrats introduced some new legislation today:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the bill would “shine a light on the flood of spending unleashed by the Citizens United decision.” The influential senator hopes to win passage of the bill by July 4, in time to curb any flow of corporate money into the 2010 midterm congressional elections. Sponsors have dubbed the bill the “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act” – for “DISCLOSE.”

The bill would require the CEO or head of an organization that is the primary financial sponsor of a political ad to claim responsibility for the ad by appearing on camera. Corporations and advocacy groups would be required to create traceable campaign accounts and disclose within 24 hours the source of donations that exceed $1,000.

“I welcome the introduction of this strong bipartisan legislation to control the flood of special interest money into America’s elections,” President Obama said Thursday. “Powerful special interests and their lobbyists should not be able to drown out the voices of the American people.”

The bill also would ban expenditures by any corporation with at least 20% of its stock owned by foreign nationals, or if foreign nationals play a dominant role in the corporation’s leadership.

While it is a little amusing listening to Schumer talk about the disparate impact of powerful special interests a week after he bashed the administration’s Israel policy, these bills at first glance sound pretty good. Let ’em say whatever they want, but make ’em own it.






21 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    Americanadian says:

    What’s to keep this bill from getting overthrown by John Roberts and his conservative, corporatist activist True American Originalist™ buddies on SCOTUS?

  3. 3
    Mark S. says:

    I like this idea, so I’m sure there will be a Republican filibuster.

  4. 4
    fourlegsgood says:

    That actually sounds like useful legislation.

    And just think, when most americans see what weasels the corporate leaders are… well, that’s a win too.

  5. 5
    Mike Kay says:

    I’m not sure if this will work. they’ll just set up dummy corporations and pacs to launder the originating donation.

    murdoch could set up a dummy corporation/pac called “the foundation of feedom” with a large slush fund endowment. That mother ship then donates to intermediate terrorist groups like family research council, who then fund PACs set up for a specific issue like “Patriots for Feedom” who then swiftboat Mother’s Day as a commie front.

  6. 6
    Bnut says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    You know, I worked for the Working Families Party in Brooklyn for awhile, and they were located in the same building as ACORN. If people could really see the offices, people and things that went on in there, they would be a lot less inclined to see it as THE DEVIL. I’ve seen more corruption and thuggery from roadkill.

    As it pertains to this bill, if it originates from a NY politician I’ll hold my breath.

  7. 7
    KRK says:

    Sponsors have dubbed the bill the “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act’’ – for “DISCLOSE.’

    While I commend the sponsors for correctly capitalizing “Is” in the title (unlike some bloggers I know), this cutesy bill naming tendency of the past couple decades is so bizarre and so prone to Orwellian turns. How many staff hours were spent coming up with that?

  8. 8
    Steve says:

    I miss Dave Thomas. He wouldn’t have minded appearing on camera.

  9. 9
    Bnut says:

    @Steve:

    Yeah, Wendy’s makes good chili for a ff place.

  10. 10
    Brandon says:

    I like it, but the foreign national requirement is insufficient. If you are a foreign national, you cannot give money to candidates. However, you can find four other Americans to share stock in a company that you have created for the express purpose of political speech? 0% foreign stock ownership and 0% foreign control (i.e. board members, directors, snr management). That should be the rule.

  11. 11
    BDeevDad says:

    I am sure Fox News is going to hate this.

    The bill also would ban expenditures by any corporation with at least 20% of its stock owned by foreign nationals, or if foreign nationals play a dominant role in the corporation’s leadership.

  12. 12
    Brandon says:

    @BDeevDad: I dunno, as Mike Kay points out, since money is fungible, there are innumerable ways that a rich jerkoff can get around this requirement using dummy corporations and the like. And what about this scenario? A company created for the sole purpose of political speech with “investors” from every company that is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, appoints a politician as CEO? Imagine how many ads we are going to see featuring Dick Armey? You think people that spend millions on lawyers to evade taxes through cute schemes and lobby are not savvy enough to find an easy workaround?

  13. 13

    @Americanadian:

    What’s to keep this bill from getting overthrown by John Roberts and his conservative, corporatist activist True American Originalist™ buddies on SCOTUS?

    Nothing. But if it’s passed in July, there’s almost no chance it’ll get up to the Supremes by November.

  14. 14
    Brandon says:

    @Anton Sirius: I dunno, they can work pretty fast when the goal and outcome is highly partisan. See e.g. Bush v. Gore. 13 U.S. 666 (2000) (holding that those partisan fuckwits can do whatever the hell they want in record speed if the Republicans need to win elections).

  15. 15
    Sly says:

    @Mark S.:

    I like this idea, so I’m sure there will be a Republican filibuster.

    Which is what Schumer wants, because he can play the game as good or better than anyone else.

    Back in 2006, when Dubai Ports World was set to take over operations of several U.S. ports, Schumer added an amendment to a Republican-led lobbying reform bill that prohibited any company, owned or controlled by any foreign government that recognized the Taliban’s authority in Afghanistan (which includes U.A.E, which owns DPW), to own, lease, operate or manage U.S. port facilities facilities. Schumer said that the “Taliban provision” was there to get around the prohibition on bills of attainder, but everyone knew what it was for: to scare Republicans into voting for it.

  16. 16
    Phoebe says:

    me likey

  17. 17
    Wilson Heath says:

    If the corporation inverted for tax purposes and it’s corporate parent is a shell company at a P.O. box in a tax haven, that’s also a company more than 20% owned by foreign nationals. I hope they pick that up.

  18. 18
    racrecir says:

    Somewhat on topic, I was amused by this Forbes.com article by Teabagger Galt, host of “Washington Watch” on PJTV, from March 2009 wherein he suggests that if Wall Street expects to profit from the political protection racket, they’d be wise to direct donations to candidates not of the Democratic Party, because you can’t trust Democrats to stay bought.

    But if–as is generally the case with political donations–they were more in the order of protection money, then Wall Street donors may instead feel duped. They might want to ask themselves what protection, exactly, they got for their investment. … If so, maybe it’s time to shut off the funding. Politicians are already gearing up for the 2010 election season. That means many of the same members of Congress who are currently running with the lynch mob will be back in search of more contributions soon enough.

    In typical fashion, the word ‘Republican’ is nowhere to be found in the article so he’s obviously not suggesting that Republicans are easy to get into the pocket. Heh. Indeed, he’s talking about “candidates who believe in free markets–and who possess a bit of backbone–instead.” Perhaps he’s suggesting that the financial industry has a friend in the Tea Party.

    At any rate, it’s fun watching Glenn Reynolds feign brass-tacks realism with mealy-mouthed conviction. It’s a style with wide appeal, and he’s got the backbone to own it.

  19. 19
    victory says:

    I’m sorry, but acronyms suck.

    “Is” counts for the acronym, “by” does not, “on” counts”, “in” does not.

    I mean, come on.

  20. 20
    slightly_peeved says:

    @BDeevDad:

    Why would they care? Rupert’s an American citizen.

  21. 21
    Hypnos says:

    @slightly_peeved: yeah, but News Corp second shareholder is one Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, of Saudi Arabia, who has boasted of being able to change Fox News coverage of things he doesn’t like.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/.....s-foxnews/

    I wonder if real murkins know that a towelhead weilds discrete amounts of power on their favorite network?

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