After the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, American voters are witnessing vast sums of money being funneled into politics in unprecedented numbers. Presently, a flood of television ads to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars spent by outside groups, Corporations as well as individuals is set upon the public, with no knowledge of who is funding the ads.
The FCC ruling in April which is now dismissed states in part:
“Citizens United unleashed a flood of money into campaigns – money that threatens to drown out the voice of the people,” Sen. Merkley said. “We need to beat back that tide of cash and the first step is in letting citizens know who exactly is paying for political ads. I applauded the FCC’s action today. Disclosure is the first step toward turning our nation back to ‘we, the people’ from ‘we, the powerful’.”
Think Progress reports, “The Justices who voted for the decision and its supporters argue that disclosure is all voters need to make informed decisions. But yesterday, a panel of House Republicans moved to keep much of this spending in the dark.”
But the House Appropriations financial services subcommittee voted along party lines to prohibit the FCC from implementing their proposal to add another layer of transparency to the political ad process. Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) argued that fiscal matters are private and should remain that way, according to the LA Times:
The proposal, which had cleared the Federal Communications Commission in April, would require TV stations affiliated with the four top networks in the 50 largest markets to post political ad sales records online. Stations are already required to make the records available to the public upon request, but most stations keep them in paper files, making it difficult to compile and track the information.
Although Democrats on the subcommittee tried to circumvent this intentional lack of transparency, they were unsuccessful. Groups and media organizations were in support of disclosing the records to no avail.
This is only the beginning of Republicans pushing Citizens United to its furthest point, where people are no longer considered relevant in the election process – and we’re just about at the point now.