Joe Biden solicits for end to ‘dark money’ in US elections – Nexus News
The US President Joe Biden has implored Congress to pass a law to address “dark money” in US elections, citing untraceable spending in politics a “serious problem” for democracy.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Biden disclosed that too much money used to influence elections in the United States “flows in the shadows”.
He proposed the “Disclose Act”, a bill that would demand political organizations that participate in campaigning to unveil the names of big funders. The proposed legislation would also prohibit contributions by foreign entities.
“Right now, advocacy groups can run ads on issues – attacking or supporting a candidate – right until election day without disclosing who’s paying for that ad,” Biden said. “Too often powerful special interests use front groups to run these ads to win at any cost.”
The law is unlikely to pass in the 100-member Senate, where Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed to counter the filibuster, a legislative procedure that permits the minority to block major legislation.
Under US law, political action committees – commonly referred to as PACs – and individuals can donate only limited funds directly to political candidates.
But in a 2010 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution give entities the right to contribute unlimited amounts of money to reject or support candidates indirectly.
Additionally, some political advocacy groups do not have to reveal their donors. Others are funding through shell organizations that make it difficult – if not impossible – to trace the money back to the initial donors.
The effort to pass the “Disclose Act” ahead of the midterm elections in November comes as Democrats push to depict former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who rejected the 2020 election results based on false allegations of voter fraud, as a threat to democracy.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer disclosed on Monday that the chamber will take a vote on the bill by the end of the week, portraying election spending by secret donors as a “veil cast over our democracy that must be ripped away once and for all”.
Schumer appreciated the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, for “pressing forward on trying to eliminate the evil scourge of dark money“.
Although the bill will most likely fail, the Democratic Senate leader proposed that the vote aims to unveil which lawmakers back dark money in politics.
“This week, all of us will go on record on whether or not we think Americans deserve to know who is spending billions to sway our democracy,” Schumer said.
The topic of money in elections ruled the Democratic primaries earlier this year, with pro-Israel groups – often financed by conservative billionaires – spending millions of dollars to counter progressives who are more likely to advocate for Palestinian human rights.
Progressive activists had unsuccessfully advised the Democratic Party’s leadership to declare the pro-Israel spending, which has been spearheaded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Last month, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) panel blocked a motion that sought to ban dark money in the party’s primaries.
“The Democratic Party, by not allowing this resolution to come to the floor, is complicit in the railroading of democracy itself,” Nina Turner, a former congressional candidate who faced an onslaught of pro-Israel spending earlier this year, wrote on Twitter on September 8.
On Tuesday, Biden confirmed that dark money is an issue for both major parties, but he stated that Democrats in Congress “support more openness and accountability”, while Republicans have so far declined calls for campaign finance reform.
“Dark money has become so common in our politics. I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Biden said.