Republicans Support 'Disclose Act' ... Next Year

The GOP still likes disclosure in campaign finance--just not this year.

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Legislation like the “Disclose Act” really does have GOP support and could pass … in the next Congress, the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee said Thursday. Not this year, though, that would be rash.

Aimed at “super PACs” in the wake of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, the bill would require that groups spending $10,000 or more on election ads must report it immediately and must disclose the identity of any donors contributing more than $10,000. Republicans have opposed the legislation as an attack on free speech.

[Check out political cartoons about super PACs.]

There was a time in U.S. politics when these sort of disclosure efforts were in the main stream of GOP thought. Republicans used to strongly believe in transparency in campaign finance. Whenever good government types would cry out for things like limits on the amount of money pouring into politics, conservatives would piously pronounce sunshine to be the greatest disinfectant and say that instead of trying to limit money (which would be the same as restricting free speech), the goal should instead be total disclosure. Let people know where the money is coming from and then vote accordingly, went the thinking.

That was, however, a time before Citizens United gave Republican a super PAC advantage this year, one which could help close the funding gap President Obama is expected to have against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

[Engage in the U.S. News debate: Are super PACs harming U.S. politics?]

So when Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who chairs the Republican Policy Committee, was asked by National Journal’s John Aloysius Farrell (a former U.S. News contributing editor) why the GOP isn’t more receptive to the Disclose Act, he said that they actually are—just not right now.

“There is greater receptivity to it, but to pass it in the heat of battle, as it were, is not something that’s going to happen. Nor is it wise to do so,” Price said at a policy breakfast sponsored by National Journal and United Technologies. “This cycle I think will be seen by historians as an aberration [because of Citizens United]. I think there will be a significant push on both sides of the aisle, and appropriately so, in the next Congress to have some significant reform that will allow for greater accountability.”

Translation: Why would we do anything to inhibit super PACs while they’re a net advantage for us? We’ll worry about it in the next Congress … when, super PACs willing, we’ll control all three branches of government.

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