a photo of Rick Claypool, online director for Public Citizen's Congress WatchThe corporate right wing is unleashing one of its more tired ploys in an attempt to smear our campaign to stop corporations from secretly distorting elections via front groups and shell companies.

The ploy is to label a policy proposal as “too partisan,” regardless of how much broad bipartisan support it has.

Then repeat.

And then repeat (ad nauseam).

In this case, we’re talking about a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule to require corporations to disclose their political spending, a reform supported by 77 percent of Americans across the political spectrum, and 91 percent of recently surveyed business leaders.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, issued a missive calling on the SEC to ignore Public Citizen and the more than 600,000 people (many of whom are investors) who have called on the SEC to bring corporate dark money into the light.

The Issa missive specifically mentioned Public Citizen. Here are a few examples:

“… Public Citizen … is spearheading outside efforts to pressure the SEC to adopt a political disclosure rule.”

We can’t take all the credit, but thanks for noticing our hard work.

“… Public Citizen, a group with a history of calling for investigations of groups organized under section 501(c)(4) …”

Issa means 501(c)(4) groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. Guilty as charged – with pride.

Public Citizen has a history of demanding that the IRS and the FEC investigate tax-exempt groups.”

To protect taxpayers by making sure our tax dollars don’t wind up subsidizing partisan corporate propaganda? Absolutely.

Issa’s intention seems to be to insinuate something unseemly about transparency about corporate political spending.

But the fact is that secret corporate spending is a tremendous problem for both the general public and for investors.

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporations can keep their political spending secret simply by funneling their political dollars through trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dark money outfits like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

Union members can look up filings with the Labor Department to find out how their labor organization is spending money in politics. Residents of areas being blasted with super PAC ads can conduct research to find out who is behind them.

Why should the likes of Walmart, Exxon Mobil, Bank of America and Monsanto be allowed to spend in secret?

We don’t think they should – and neither do most Americans.

The issue of transparency of corporate political spending is neither a partisan issue nor a special interest issue.

It is a public interest issue, and one we proudly support.

Want to be involved?

Join the more than 600,000 people who have called on the SEC to disclose corporate political spending.

Rick Claypool is online director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. Follow him on Twitter at @RickClaypool.


  • www. the sacredwhispers.com

    Democracy ceases to be a Democracy when it tolerates different rules and conditions for different people. Secrecy only serves to create and protect privileges for the 1%…
    In the name of Democracy, I urge the SEC to disclose corporate political spending.

  • It’s not just disclosure that is not partisan or ideological for that matter. The grassroots movement to overturn Citizens United is both cross partisan and trans-ideological. See:


  • Bill Roberson

    While secret funding is particularly corrosive to democracy, any large contributions are detrimental. Even with transparency, too many voters are still unaware of where the information (or, more likely, misinformation) that effects their choices comes from. Unequal funding (often favoring incumbents) results in unequal paid media exposure. Those elected spend increasing amounts of time fundraising, which detracts time and energy from what they were elected to do. For corporations, funding is a business investment. They expect, and often receive, favorable policy decisions, or at least access, giving policymakers one-sided information. Legislators cannot be impartial — there must always be some concern how their actions will sit with big donors. Fundraising may have a more insidious effect. It requires spending more time with elites whose lifestyles and concerns are very different from that of their constituencies, with whom they may have minimal contact. About half of Congress are millionaires, already making it difficult to “walk in the shoes” of those they purport to represent.

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