Gorsuch refuses Whitehouse's request to ask shadowy backers to reveal themselves

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday pointedly refused Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Senate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? MORE’s (D-R.I.) request that he publicly ask conservative donors funding a $10 million advertising campaign run by the conservative Judicial Crisis Network to identify themselves.

Though he did not name Judicial Crisis Network by name, Whitehouse asked why the group spent at least $7 million to keep President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, from getting a confirmation hearing and is now spending $10 million to get Gorsuch confirmed.

“Ask them,” Gorsuch said.

“I can’t, because I don’t know who they are,” Whitehouse replied. 

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Whitehouse asked that Gorsuch, as a “matter of courtesy to the process,” ask his anonymous backers to reveal themselves so the public could know what interests favor his confirmation.

“You could ask right now as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of respect for the process that anybody funding this should declare themselves right now so we can evaluate who is behind this effort,” Whitehouse said.

Gorsuch declined to take the bait.

“It would be a politics question and I’m not, with all respect senator, going to get involved in politics,” he said.

Gorsuch said if lawmakers want to pass legislation that would require that political advocacy groups to disclose their donors, they could do that.

“If you want to have more disclosure, pass a law,” he said.

Whitehouse retorted that Gorsuch's answer was not sufficient because he failed to state his "values" on the perceived problem of special interest influence in the political process.

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