Van Hollen: McConnell Was For Disclosure Before He Was Against It
Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen issued the following statement in response to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the DISCLOSE Act:
“Senator McConnell used to agree with the need for disclosure – I guess he was for disclosure before he was against it. Apparently he has reversed himself on this fundamental issue, because he now believes that Republicans in Congress will benefit from secret contributions to shadowy groups who refuse to tell voters who is bankrolling their attack ads. Shame on Republicans in Congress for putting big-moneyed special interests before the health of our democracy. If they have nothing to hide, they should have nothing to fear from transparency and disclosure.
“Even the Supreme Court said in Citizens United that disclosure requirements are constitutional because they serve important governmental interests in ‘providing the electorate with information about the sources of election-related spending,’ in order to help citizens ‘make informed choices in the political marketplace.’ As Justice Brandeis said, ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ This issue is a test of whether tea party Republicans believe in the public’s right to know or whether they have sold out to special interests.”
“Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has spent his political career fighting more restrictions, in 2000 called for broad new disclosure requirements in response to an effort by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to crack down on so-called ‘527’ political groups. At the time, the groups were raking in millions in unlimited donations from corporations and unions without being forced to disclose who the donors were or how the money was spent. ‘Republicans are in favor of disclosure,’ McConnell told Tim Russert on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ at the time. In fact, he said, the more disclosure, the better. ‘If you’re going to do that, and the Senate voted to do that, and I’m prepared to go down that road, then it needs to be meaningful disclosure, Tim,’ he said. ‘527s are just a handful of groups. 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?’ [The Hill, Campaign finance bill has GOP wary, 04/22/2010]