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April 30, 2014

King Calls for Expanded Disclosure as New Report Highlights Increased Prevalence of Dark Money in U.S. Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release of a staggering report that shows significant spending of undisclosed money in Congressional races, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today chaired a Senate Rules Committee Hearing to examine the influence of so-called dark money on U.S. elections and underscored the urgency of expanding disclosure requirements for campaign contributions in the wake of the Supreme Court decision McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

To read Senator King’s opening statement, click HERE.

The hearing, “Dollars and Sense: How Undisclosed Money and Post-McCutcheon Campaign Finance Will Affect the 2014 Election and Beyond,” was the first to focus on campaign finance since the Supreme Court decision, which abolished caps on an individual’s aggregate donations to all federal candidates, parties and some political committees.

It also followed a report from the Wesleyan Media Project and the Center for Responsive Politics that revealed an estimated $43.1 million has already been spent on senatorial races this election cycle, representing a 45 percent increase compared to the same point in 2012. Even more startling, however, is that the report also revealed that nearly 60 percent of those ads were supported by undisclosed or “dark” money.

Earlier this month, King introduced the Real Time Transparency Act of 2014, which would require that all campaign contributions of $1000 or more be filed with the FEC within 48-hours.

The witnesses for the Majority were retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Commissioner and Vice Chair of the FEC Ann Ravel, former FEC Commissioner Trevor Potter, and American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Norm Ornstein. For more information about the witnesses, see below.

John Paul Stevens is a retired Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Having served on the Court for 35 years from 1975-2010, Justice Stevens authored many significant opinions during his tenure, including the dissent in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled that political spending is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment and that the government may not prohibit corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. For more information on Justice John Paul Stevens, click HERE.

Ann Ravel is currently a Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Federal Elections Commission. She previously served as Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) where she oversaw the regulation of campaign finance, lobbyist registration and reporting, and ethics and conflicts of interest related to officeholders and public employees. During her tenure at the FPPC, Ms. Ravel was instrumental in the creation of the States’ Unified Network Center, a web-based center for sharing information on campaign finance.She has been an outspoken critic of money’s influence in politics, and was confirmed by the Senate last September. For more information on Ann Ravel, click HERE.

Trevor Potter is currently a Member at Caplin & Drysdale’s Washington, D.C. office and is one of the best-known and experienced campaign and election lawyers. He is a former Commissioner and Chairman of the FEC and also served as General Counsel for both of U.S. Senator John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaigns. He has also served as Stephen Colbert’s legal counsel on campaign finance matters, and is the founding President of and General Counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. For more information on Trevor Potter, click HERE.

Norm Ornstein is currently Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses his research on U.S politics, elections, and Congress.  He is a contributing editor and columnist for both National Journal and The Atlantic and is also an election eve analyst for BBC News. He co-directed the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and led a working group that helped shape the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (more commonly referred to as McCain-Feingold). For more information on Norm Ornstein, click HERE.


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