Dems renew call for political spending disclosure rule

Dems renew call for political spending disclosure rule
© Greg Nash

On the sixth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling, Senate Democrats are renewing calls for a rule requiring corporations to disclose their political spending.

The landmark 5-4 ruling allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts on politics, so long as they do not coordinate with campaigns or parties, and critics have been pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue a rule ever since.

“Six years ago the Supreme Court drove a steam roller over this fundamental principle of our government — this principle of we the people,” said Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion MORE (D-Ore.) “It allowed companies to spend unlimited funds to influence the outcomes of elections.”

Though Republicans snuck language into this year’s government funding bill that bars the agency from issuing a rule, Senate Democrats told reporters Thursday that the rider doesn’t stop the SEC from working on one.

“Respected legal scholars have confirmed it doesn’t stop the SEC from working on it, so when the law expires the SEC can enact it in short order,” said Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.)

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump's SEC may negate investors' ability to fight securities fraud Schatz's ignorance of our Anglo-American legal heritage illustrates problem with government Dems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee MORE (D-Mass.), who joined the call organized by Public Citizen Thursday, said she’s personally disappointed that the agency cancelled a roundtable discussion on political spending that was scheduled for this month.

“SEC has the legal authority to reschedule the roundtable and take other major steps to create this rule,” she said.“It’s time for the SEC to stop delaying and start acting to address this problem.”

If Republicans wanted to bar the SEC from working on a rule, the lawmakers said they would have drafted the language specifically to say so.

“The rider did not limit SEC’s ability to prepare the rule or meet with interested parties,” Warren said. “There is nothing to prevent the SEC from making real progress on the rule this year."

The push comes as President Obama is reportedly weighing an executive order to force companies that do business with the federal government, which Republicans have slammed as illegal.