End secret sponsors of political advertisements


Coverage Type: op-ed
Location:
Capitol Building, E Capitol St NE & 1st St NE, Washington, DC, United States

[Commentary] Californians know the power of transparency in politics. Our state laws require campaign advertisements to include the disclosure of their true sponsors. It's why in 2010, when voters learned who actually was sponsoring political TV ads in support of a state ballot initiative to weaken greenhouse gas emission rules -- two major oil companies -- they rejected it by a 23 percent margin. As the 2016 Presidential campaigns commence, the entirety of the American electorate has a right to be just as empowered. Voters are sickened spectators to the corrosion of our democracy by moneyed interests following the Supreme Court's devastating decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon. The decisions struck down virtually all limits on the amount of money that can be spent on campaigns without any effective disclosure regime in place. For a large portion of political spending, the American public has no way of knowing who is putting up the money or how much they're spending.

House Democratic members have introduced legislation to require the Federal Communications Commission to update its interpretation of disclosure rules to reflect the original intent of Congress. It's called the Keeping Our Campaigns Honest (KOCH) Act (yes, like the Koch brothers who've infamously promised to funnel $900 million into the 2016 presidential campaign). The bill, which I am cosponsoring, would shine a light on the true sponsors of political ads that flood the nation's airwaves. The lack of transparency in politics is harming our democracy, breeding even more mistrust in government, and depressing voter participation. The public has a right to know who is persuading them over the public airwaves, and the FCC should honor that right.

[Rep Anna Eshoo (D-CA) is Ranking Member of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee]

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