GOPers were for transparency, before they were against it

Written by Molly McNab

John McCain (R-AZ) co-authored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 with Russ Feingold (D-WI), a landmark piece of campaign finance legislation. More recently he co-authored a scathing critique of Citizens United with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Given his history of reaching across the aisle to keep big money away from politics, one would think that McCain would be one of the DISCLOSE Act’s loudest champions. Unfortunately, McCain and other reform-minded Republicans such as Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Scott Brown (R-MA) have yet to stand by their words and promises, choosing instead to join their fellow Republicans in squashing transparency.

Even the loudest voices for reform in the GOP leadership have quickly changed their tune. In April of 2010 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told NBC: “We need to have real disclosure. And so what we ought to do is broaden the disclosure to include at least labor unions and tax-exempt business associations and trial lawyers so that you include the major political players in America. Why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?” Had it not been filibustered by McConnell himself, the DISCLOSE Act would have provided the “lot of disclosure” he asked for.

Now that it’s time to make tough decisions, where can you find McConnell and McCain on the issue of DISCLOSE? They have chosen tobackpedaling on previous views and statements about disclosure, a textbook “flip-flop”. They refuse to budge from their party’s staunch opposition to reform,  making DISCLOSE, which enjoys support in red and blue states alike, into a partisan issue.

In a late night speech on the Senate floor Monday night, Senator Whitehouse, DISCLOSE’s sponsor, pointed out that 7 out of 10 Americans think that Super PACs should be illegal. If McCain and McConnell want to stand with the people they claim to represent, they are obligated to throw their full support behind the DISCLOSE Act and push forward this much needed step for government reform.


Molly McNab is currently an intern at common cause for the summer. She is a rising junior at Sarah Lawrence College interested in studying International Relations and Government.

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