Next Battle

Obama Turns to Campaign Finance

Amending campaign-finance laws, a hot button issue in light of the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United v. FEC decision this year (one that allowed corporations, unions, and nonprofits to contribute to campaigns under free-speech rights), is stirring up debate yet again. The Senate is scheduled to vote on commencing debate on a new bill introduced by Charles Schumer (D-NY), called the DISCLOSE Act ("Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections"). Democrats contend that corporate spending in campaigns gives corporations and foreign influences a greater stake in the political sphere, while Republicans argue that campaign-finance laws infringe on political free speech. Obama blasted GOP dissenters, saying "We shouldn't be playing these political games," adding that "A vote to oppose these... reforms is nothing more than a vote to allow corporate interests to take over" elections. The legislation would require the disclosure of donor lists by unions, corporations, and nonprofits and force political ads to run disclaimers of ownership. The bill, however, exempts such lobbyist powerhouses as the NRA and the AARP—fine print that makes several Democratic senators, like California's Dianne Feinstein and New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg, unhappy.