WASHINGTON--SuperPacs are "game changers" in the 2012 election, as the Sunlight Foundation puts it and Congress should pass a law to let the public know--in real time--who the donors are who are trying to influence elections.
According to the Sunlight tally, SuperPacs poured $15 million to date in Iowa and New Hampshire GOP presidential primaries. SuperPacs are new players on the political scene this election cycle, created after the Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 Citizens United case that corporations and unions--banned from donating to federal candidates were free to form political action committees to support or be against specific candidates. These independent expenditures are supposed to be independent of a campaign--but the personnel running them have deep ties to the candidates the SuperPac is backing.
The GOP in Congress stalled an earlier attempt to force timely disclosure. Sunlight wants Congress to pass a bill to "ensure that the money behind corporate, union and shadow group campaign ads will be online, available for public scrutiny, in real time."
What needs to be done:
"Ensure disclosure of donors who fund independent expenditures and electioneering communications made by super PACs or other 501(c) organizations. ...Data must be in searchable, sortable, machine-readable formats and reports must include unique IDs for all filers. ....Require disclaimers (stand-by-your-ad statements) and identification of top funders in the ad. .....Require registered lobbyists to report their spending on independent expenditures and electioneering communications. ....Require all candidates and committees to file electronically with the Federal Election Commission."
"The Sunlight Foundation calls on both Democrats and Republicans to stop serving their self-interest and start acting in the public interest by taking a step in favor of transparency. We propose the Stop Undisclosed Payments in Elections from Ruining Public Accountability in Campaigns Act (a.k.a the SUPERPAC Act) as a step towards addressing the corrupting influence unlimited, secret super PAC money has on our elections and our elected officials," Sunlight said in a statement.