WASHINGTON, July 27 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted today for legislation to undo some of the damage from a Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for virtually unchecked influence by huge corporations on elections in the United States.
Sanders said he was “extremely disappointed” that another Republican filibuster blocked the Senate from taking up the bill. The vote to shut off debate was 57 to 41, three short of the extraordinary 60-vote majority needed to stop a filibuster.
“Big money corporate interests – from Wall Street to oil giants and from drug companies to the military industrial complex – already dominate the political process in Washington. It is inconceivable to me that not one Republican voted to minimize the horrendous Supreme Court decision which will allow corporations to put unlimited funds into campaign advertising with no disclosure whatsoever,” Sanders said.
The legislation Sanders backed was a response to a Jan. 21 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which lifted strict limits in place for decades on corporate spending on political campaigns. Justices ruled 5 to 4 that corporations have the same free-speech rights as individuals and can spend funds from corporate treasuries on political campaigns.
The bill would:
- Require the CEO of a corporation that spends on campaign-related activity to stand by the ad and say that he or she “approves this message,” just like candidates have to do now.
- Prohibit a corporation that is under the direction or control of a foreign entity from spending money on our elections.
- Require disclosure of political spending by corporations and other entities to their shareholders and members and require these groups to make their political spending public on their websites within 24 hours after filing with the FEC.
- Ban coordination between a candidate and outside groups on ads that reference a candidate from the time period beginning 90 days before a primary and running through the general election.
- Avoid the appearance of corruption and possible misuse of taxpayer funds by banning government contractors with a contract worth more than $10 million from spending money on elections.
Ultimately, Sanders said, the solution is that Congress must move forward aggressively to public funding of elections. In the meantime, it was a great disappointment that Senate Republicans used procedural rules to keep the Senate from taking a stand against the corroding, undemocratic influence of corporate interests in our elections.