WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama on Monday urged senators to vote for a measure that would reveal the amount of money corporations spend on campaign ads. The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a motion to move forward with the bill.
“Nobody is saying you can’t run the ads,” Obama said, “just make sure that people know who in fact is behind financing these ads.”
The Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or DISCLOSE Act, would require corporate political advertisers to disclose who is funding their campaigns and reveal their identities in any ads they sponsor.
Obama said that in the wake of the Supreme Court decision earlier this year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to remove limits on corporate spending on U.S. elections, the DISCLOSE Act would “prevent special interests from gaining more clout.”
“These shadow groups are already forming and building war chests of tens of millions of dollars to influence the fall elections,” Obama said. “The least we should be able to do is know who they are.”
The Act would also prohibit foreign corporations from contributing to U.S. election campaigns.
“You’d think that making these reforms would be a matter of common sense,” Obama said.
Sen. Charles Schumer , D-N.Y., the bill’s sponsor, said the Act is “designed to shine a bright light on those that operate in the shadows.”
“Candidates already have to stand by their ads,” Schumer said in a Senate floor speech Monday. “There is no reason a corporation shouldn’t have to stand by their ads as well.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in statement Monday that the bill was “designed to save politicians’ jobs,” preventing Democrats from receiving a firestorm of political ads before November elections.
“The DISCLOSE Act seeks to protect unpopular Democrat politicians by silencing their critics and exempting their campaign supporters from an all out attack on the First Amendment. In the process, the authors of the bill have decided to trade our Constitutional rights away in a backroom deal that makes the Cornhusker Kickback look like a model of legislative transparency,” McConnell said.
He was referring to the deal struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., in December 2009 to direct Medicaid funding to his state in return for his vote on the health care reform bill, a provision that was later removed.
“The bill does not chill speech,” Schumer said, calling Republicans’ assertion that the bill impinges on free speech “nothing more than a scare tactic.”
The House passed its version of the DISCLOSE Act on June 24.