The DISCLOSE Act was summarily executed via filibuster in the Senate last night. But this is one symbolic vote that mattered, because it offered at least an attempt to address the flow of hidden money into our elections.
But wait, you say—the promise of Citizens United was to balance unlimited money with unprecedented transparency. Well, brace yourself, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. In fact, the trade of cash for transparency has been undercut by a variety of vehicles, especially the use of 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations grafted onto super PACs that allow for anonymous donations and big-ticket expenditures that we won’t see until the election is in the rearview mirror.
Constitutional scholar David Cobb, recently spoke to a full house at the Pawtucket Public Library. Mr.Cobb is one of the founders of Move to Amend, an organization that seeks to amend the Constitution so that you have to be a person to have the rights of a citizen. The Supremes recently refused to challenge the premise of Citizens United, that corporate money is speech. Now it’s final that anonymous money is protected. That kind of citizen does not have to show its papers at the polling place, or even show its face.