An Appeal to President Obama: Help Shine a Light on Dark Money in Politics

SunburstLogo1_2x_thumnmailAs President Obama prepares to give his final State of the Union Address, there are things he can do as President to help address the outsized influence money in politics.

But first, let’s be clear: the problems we face with money in politics fall into two broad categories:

  • Big Money / No Limits
  • Dark Money / No Accountability

Put the two together, and you have an unprecedented threat to the future of our democracy where Big Money can buy elections and influence government policy with  No Accountability.

The first category, Big Money / No Limits, is embedded in Supreme Court decisions, notably Citizens United in 2010, that effectively deemed unlimited political contributions by corporations and unions to be the equivalent of free speech and protected under the First Amendment.

The decision is an affront to common sense, let alone constitutional law: In modern society, money more closely resembles the exercise of raw power, not speech, and thus must be constrained in order to guarantee equality to all, a bedrock principle of our great democracy. Citizens United must be overturned. But, unfortunately, that could takes years if not decades depending on who wins the presentidal election in 2016.

The second category, Dark Money / No Accountability, has evolved because Federal legislation has not kept pace with a rapidly changing legal landscape, resulting in big loopholes. Candidates and their Super PACS are required to report.  Corporations and non-profits – such as social welfare agencies and trade associations – are not.

Democrats have proposed legislation – the Disclose Act – that would close these loopholes. In 2010, the legislation passed the House, but failed to achieve the 60 votes necessary to override a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Requiring government contractors to disclose their contributions is a much-needed step in the right direction to help shine a light on dark money in politics and introduce a measure of accountability.  We hope President Obama announces this initiative tonight as he delivers his final State of the Union message.

 

1 Comment

  1. I believe that President Obama has done many good things on behalf of our country, and if the Republican Party had actually acted on behalf of our people throughout our president’s current administration, he could have gotten so much more done. But Republican Senator McConnell made it clear at the outset of our president’s administration that they would fight on every issue to see to it that President Obama’s administration would be a failure. Thankfully, the Republicans did not succeed in every area and the facts show that our country has made positive strides for our well being. But we could have done so much more on behalf of our lower and middle classes if the Republicans had followed in the lanes created by their predecessor presidents like Dwight Eisenhower who had our people, and not our politics at the top of his list of accomplishments to be achieved.

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