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Republicans Vote to Shield Mega-Donors Behind Political Ads

May 20, 2015
Press Release

Last month, Yarmuth introduced the legislation which would require disclosure of the donors behind Super PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations that are flooding the nation’s airwaves with anonymous ads. 

“In today’s political reality of non-stop campaigning, our system continues to fail the American people, allowing special interests and shadow groups to fill our airwaves with anonymous ads – with no disclosure whatsoever,” said Yarmuth. “Until we tackle the looming issue of anonymous money and the flood of special interest spending that paralyzes our democracy, we’ll never truly be able to responsibly address the major issues that hardworking American families face.”

“Transparency should not stop at the doors of the FCC,” said full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.  “For too long, mega-donors have been hiding behind innocuous and misleading front groups.  Americans deserve to know who is using the public’s airwaves to influence political debates, and Congressman Yarmuth’s bill sheds much needed light on this secret spending.”

The FCC currently has the authority under the Communications Act to require on-air disclosure of the “true identity” of the people and groups buying ads.  However, today, mega-donors hide behind the innocuous and misleading titles of their front groups.  Yarmuth’s bill directs the FCC to use the agency’s existing authority in the Communications Act and update the sponsorship identification rules before the 2016 election season.

The amount of political spending by organizations that do not disclose their donors has grown tremendously in recent years.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, these organizations spent $300 million during the 2012 election.  To put that in perspective, just six years earlier, they spent $5.2 million.

The bill’s co-sponsors include full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Representatives G.K Butterfield (D-NC), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Gene Green (D-TX), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Peter Welch (D-VT).