Who is paying for the political ads in your social media feeds? Would voters think twice if they knew who was trying to influence their decisions? Is there any hope of relief from the corporate spending spree unleashed by Citizens United?
The rise of online ads and dark money has drastically changed political campaigns. And the Federal Election Commission — the independent agency tasked with administering and enforcing federal campaign finance laws — has been woefully slow to adapt.
These FEC shortcomings have very real consequences. Thirteen years after the Supreme Court launched the dark money era in its disastrous Citizens United1 decision, untracked and underreported political spending continues to undermine our democracy. The current reality:
Wealthy individuals and corporations can anonymously skew elections in favor of their interests
Agents of foreign governments can easily exploit loopholes and sow disinformation via online ads
There is a lack of transparency — and a lack of voter trust — in who is funding political campaigns
But there is hope for change.
The Brennan Center has long advocated for two pieces of critical legislation: the Honest Ads Act and the DISCLOSE Act. The Honest Ads Act would close key loopholes and ensure that online political ads are subject to the same disclosure rules as TV and radio ads, stepping in where the Federal Election Campaign Act — a law passed decades before online advertising came into existence — leaves off. The bill was recently reintroduced by Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar and has strong bipartisan support.
The DISCLOSE Act, reintroduced in the Senate a few months ago by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, would ensure voters receive information about the identity of donors who spend money on campaign ads. Shadowy donors have spent billions of dollars across the past several election cycles. Just 21 families spent more than 3.7 million small donors combined in the 2022 midterms. Every voter deserves to know who is trying to influence their vote.
We cannot let these anonymous spending sprees undermine fairness in our elections.
With your support, we can make our political system transparent and equitable for all.
Please take two minutes: Contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to pass the Honest Ads Act and the DISCLOSE.
Act this session: https://secure.brennancenter.org/secure/tell-congress-stem-dark-money-flood?utm_medium=EML&utm_source=mainlist&utm_content=msgact_01.24.2023&utm_term=7018Y000001W2j7QAC&cid=7018Y000001W2j7QAC&ms=EML_mainlist_msgact_01.24.2023