Activist groups and some congressional Democrats have launched a two-pronged effort to force disclosure of donors contributing to political action committees.
The move follows the Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United decision that lifted restrictions on corporate and union funding of campaign ads.
One effort — from watchdog groups including the Sunlight Foundation — would require the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that broadcasters identify organizations buying political ads in station documents, rather than simply identifying the media buying firm, Broadcasting & Cable reported.
The second move, led by Common Cause and backed by some Democrats, asks the FCC to force individuals and companies that funnel contributions through PACs to identify themselves on-air.
“The conventional wisdom is that if the actual donors behind groups like Americans for More American Values have to associate themselves directly with the ads, particularly attack ads, they will be less inclined to fund them,” Broadcasting & Cable observed.
Congressional Democrats tried to require on-air disclosure of the contributors to Super PACs in 2010, but the bill failed. Now they want the FCC to do what Congress couldn’t.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he believes the Supreme Court would look “approvingly” on disclosure.
Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, now an adviser to Common Cause, said in a blog last week that “billionaire contributors,” both conservative and liberal, should not “be allowed to mask their identities under a cloak of Citizens for Purple Mountain Majesties and Amber Waves of Grain.
“If the FCC would exercise the authority it has, we could at least see Big Money unmasked,” Copps said.
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