With so many tens of millions of dollars flowing into political campaigns anonymously this year, it's hard to believe anyone would oppose some minimum level of disclosure. After all, it was Justice
But those who might have assumed that even the most self-interested politician would be able to detect the threat to democracy posed by unlimited and undisclosed giving to political campaigns have probably never seen theU.S. Senatein action. This week, its members had a chance to rise above the partisan fray — and chose not to do so.
Why the opposition? It's because GOP candidates are benefiting disproportionately from the current mess of campaign finance laws in the post-Citizens United era. Independent spending has already doubled from two years ago, and the majority goes to Republicans. Of course, that's not what the opposing senators are saying to justify their actions, but it's the only reasonable explanation.
We kid you not. Senator McConnell does not simply disagree with transparency requirements, he has labeled them "un-American." And he says it with a straight face.
Opponents have also become gifted at muddying the waters and claim existing law already requires large contributions to be reported. That's true but only to an extent. Super PACs must, indeed, disclose — but not related 501c(4) tax-exempt organizations. That's the loophole that's making all the difference.
The definition of a "social welfare organization" has been stretched so far that it appears virtually any political group can claim that status.
And this has become such a rich vein of support for Republicans that even the Senate's moderates and reform-minded voted to block DISCLOSE — including such stalwarts as
Why? Because it's a huge embarrassment for a party that's trying to claim it doesn't represent the interests of the rich only. And the poster child for why DISCLOSE and other reforms are important is surely
Mr. Adelson would no doubt prefer to have the Justice Department overseen by a friend less interested in enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. How many secret donors may have similar motivations? How many would like help dodging the law, or to avoid particular environmental regulations, or keep a particularly lucrative defense contract, or push some other secret agenda? The American people can't know. Mr. McConnell and pretty much everyone else in his party don't want them to find out.