Tell the SEC: We need transparency!
Written by Jack Mumby
Transparency advocates were dealt a devastating blow earlier this week, as the DISCLOSE Act was stopped in its tracks by a GOP-led filibuster and a cloture vote along party lines. The DISCLOSE Act would have closed the “independent expenditure” loophole that Citizens United opened, forcing superPACs, corporations, and unions to disclose the identities of any donors giving more than $10,000.
Adding insult to injury, many of the GOP senators who voted against cloture had previously spoken out in favor of reform- even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had spoken of the need for greater disclosure. Unfortunately, when it came time to back up their words with action, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, John McCain, and the rest of the GOP Senate caucus chose to side with wealthy donors over their constituents.
Even though the DISCLOSE Act may be stalled for now, that doesn’t mean reformers are giving up. Today on the Hill, investors, senators, and small business owners are rallying in support of the next step in the fight for transparency.
Last August, 10 law professors submitted a petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission, asking them to establish disclosure guidelines for corporate political spending. The petition, #4-637, has received unprecedented public support, with over 300,000 comments submitted to the SEC calling for greater transparency.
Unless something changes, American democracy is in dire trouble. Thanks to Citizens United, corporate CEOs can dip into the company treasury to buy out politicians without anyone’s knowledge or consent, even their shareholders. SEC Comissioner Luis Aguilar has already expressed support for transparency, but he needs our support to take on the special interests that want to keep buying our elections in secret.
If you want to lend your voice to help fix this broken system, send an e-mail comment the SEC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the petition number (#4-637) in the subject line of your e-mail!
Here’s a sample comment, or write your own:
I am deeply concerned about the influence of corporate money on our electoral process.
In particular, I am appalled that, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, publicly traded corporations can spend investor’s money on political activity in secret.
I am writing to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose all their political spending.
Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much the corporation spends on politics and which candidates are being promoted or attacked. Disclosures should be posted promptly on the SEC’s web site.
Thank you for considering my comment.
Jack Mumby is a 2012 graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Policy and campaigned for wage justice and other progressive causes. He is currently working as an intern with Common Cause’s national office.