Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor announcing a Senate vote on the DISCLOSE Act. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Today, I am announcing the Senate will vote this week to take up a measure critical to fighting the cancer of dark money in our elections: the DISCLOSE Act.
I’ve long promised to bring this bill to the floor, and I want to thank all my colleagues, in particular Senator Whitehouse. He has done an amazing job documenting and pressing forward on trying to eliminate the evil scourge of dark money. He has been an amazing leader in championing this legislation.
The DISCLOSE Act is premised on a simple idea: Americans deserve to know who is trying to influence their elections. Sadly, most Americans today are largely in the dark thanks to the abominable decision in Citizens United, handed down by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. Their ruling has paved the way for billions in unlimited campaign contributions by Super PACs and other dark money groups over the last decade. Ordinary citizens, meanwhile, have had their voices drowned out by elites who have millions to spare for political donations.
And the worst part? Much of this spending happens entirely in secret. That’s not like a democracy. It is a veil cast over our democracy that must be ripped away once and for all.
The DISCLOSE Act is simple. It would require super PACs and other dark money groups to report anyone contributing $10,000 or more during an election. It would likewise require groups spending money on judicial nominees to disclose their donors too. There is no justification under heaven for keeping such massive contributions hidden from the public.
This week Republicans are going to have to take a stand on whether they want to fight the power of dark money, or allow this cancer to grow even worse. Limiting the power of dark money shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican view. It should be bipartisan through and through.
I hope Republicans will join us, because Americans intuitively understand that right now there is a stench taking over our campaign finance law.
After all, when was the last time any of us heard voters cheer on the spread of dark money?
When was the last time any of us heard voters say it’s better for billionaires and special interests to buy elections in secret, rather than be held accountable to the public?
Of course, they don’t think that! Unless they themselves are the ones cutting the multi-million dollar checks.
So this week, all of us will go on record on whether or not we think Americans deserve to know who is spending billions to sway our democracy. It will be our chance to put into practice the famous saying by Justice Luis Brandeis that ‘sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant.’
I once again commend Senator Whitehouse for his years of leadership in fighting the sway of dark money, and I urge all my colleagues to support this measure this week.