President Obama blasted Senate Republicans Monday after the failure of the DISCLOSE Act for “(standing) with big banks and oil companies”—but made no mention of union spending in the statement, despite recent reports that unions both affected the legislation and spent an estimated $4.4 billion on elections between 2005 and 2011.
The provision would have required electioneering advertisements to disclose the source of the funding behind the ads—the “stand by your ad” provision. The provision would have required the CEO or equivalent leader to endorse the ads, as is the practice for political campaigns.
A report last week by the Wall Street Journal revealed unions spent $4.4 billion between 2005 and 2011 on political campaigns—a total $3.3 billion higher than previously estimated.
The White House statement focuses on what the president calls the "corrosive" effects of the Citizens United decision.
“If we allow this practice to continue, special interests will have unprecedented influence over politicians,” Obama said in the statement. “It’s wrong. It’s corrosive to our democracy, and it’s a threat to our future.”
The DISCLOSE Act would have required groups spending more than $10,000 on election-related advertising to disclose donors who gave that amount.
Among other groups, the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the DISLOSE Act.
The president's full statement:
Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that big corporations are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence American elections. They can buy millions of dollars’ worth of TV ads with no obligation to reveal who’s actually paying for them.
The consequences of this decision are predictable. If we allow this practice to continue, special interests will have unprecedented influence over politicians. It’s wrong. It’s corrosive to our democracy, and it’s a threat to our future.
Today, Republicans in the Senate had the chance to change it. They had the opportunity to support a bill that would prevent the worst effects of the Citizens United decision and require groups or special interests who are trying to influence elections to reveal their donors so the public will know who’s funding their political ads. This bill should have received broad, bipartisan support.
Unfortunately, Republicans chose to block it. Instead of standing up for the American people, Republicans stood with big banks and oil companies – special interests that certainly don’t need more clout in Washington.
I will continue to do everything I can to repair the deficit of trust between Washington and the American people. I’m disappointed Republicans in Congress failed to take action and hold corporations and special interests accountable to the American people.