Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Lee Fang at The Nation has spliced together some CSPAN footage from 2000 to show how Republican senators have changed their tune on campaign finance disclosure.
The video, posted below, shows GOP senators, including U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, urging their colleagues to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation. As PPH Washington bureau chief Kevin Miller reported today, those same senators voted Tuesday against the Disclose Act, which would have required groups, labor unions and non-profits spending millions on campaign ads to reveal how much they spend and who their large donors are.
Fang writes that the Disclose Act "accomplishes essentially the exact same goal as Snowe's amendment (to McCain-Feingold) over a decade ago."
He added, "But her party has changed, and she (Snowe) along with it."
In her 2000 remarks Snowe said, "I hope that the Senate will stand four square behind disclosure and sunlight and against the unchecked process of these electioneering ads that have certainly, I think, transformed the political landscape in ways that we could not possibly desire or embrace."
Snowe, in a written statement, told the PPH that she didn't support the Disclose Act because it was hastily drafted and favored labor unions. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also voted against Disclose despite supporting McCain-Feingold in 2000.
Collins said she supported campaign transparency laws and hoped to work with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to draft an alternative proposal.
Disclose would have required political action committees, nonprofits, corporations and unions to reveal donors who gave them $10,000 or more after the group spent more than $10,000 in campaign ads.
Critics of the GOP vote say the party caved to pressure from Republican National Committee and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber argued that the bill would "silence free speech" and intimidate donors.
Transparency groups say such rationale doesn't square with the reasons given by the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who loosened campaign finance laws by removing spending limits for corporations, unions and other groups. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion for "Citizens United" that disclosure permitted citizens to judge the speech -- or campaign spending -- by corporate entities.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.