CONGRESSMAN CHRIS VAN HOLLEN

Maryland’s 8th District

For Immediate Release

July 20, 2015

CONTACT:  Bridgett Frey – 202-225-5384

Ian Jannetta – 202-225-1527

Van Hollen Leads Letter Highlighting Disclosure Issues in Financial Services Appropriations Bill

Urges the President to Veto Bill Unless the Issues are Changed

Washington, DC – Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen led a letter to President Obama with 46 of his colleagues, highlighting the troubling campaign finance provisions inserted by House Republicans in the FY 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill and urging the President to veto the legislation unless it changes.

“Unfortunately, in the face of an increasing public demand for disclosure by corporations and outside groups, the House Appropriations Committee has inserted provisions in the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that would prohibit the disclosure of secret money designed to influence elections,” they wrote. “We request that you strongly oppose the inclusion of these limitations on greater transparency in the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.  The American people have a right to know who is bankrolling elections and who is attempting to influence their votes.  If these legislative restrictions on transparency are not removed, we strongly urge you veto this bill.”

The full text of the letter is below.

July 20, 2015

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President,

The House Republicans have included campaign finance disclosure restrictions in the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.  These provisions are designed to protect secret money in our elections.  They would prevent the Executive Branch from issuing rules to require public disclosure by government contractors and non-profit social welfare organizations, as well as shareholder disclosure by corporations.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission opened the floodgates to secret campaign spending by corporations, and other outside organizations.  In response, the DISCLOSE Act was introduced to require these groups to disclose their campaign spending.  The House passed the DISCLOSE Act in 2010.   Unfortunately, it fell one vote short of passing the Senate.

As a result, a wave of secret money has flowed into political campaigns from outside groups. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in the 2012 Presidential election year, $674.8 million of the $1.294 billion outside campaign spending was not fully disclosed.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has received in excess of 1.2 million comments in favor of requiring corporations to disclose their campaign spending to their shareholders.  Likewise, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has received extensive comments regarding the flawed IRS regulations which have allowed 501 (c)(4), social welfare organizations, to spend  vast amounts of undisclosed money to influence federal elections. Finally, as you know, the White House has been working on an Executive Order to require Federal contractors to disclose their campaign finance activities.

Eight of the nine Supreme Court Justices supported donor disclosure in the Citizens United case.   Since then national polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans favor the disclosure of campaign finance activities.  A recent poll commissioned by CBS and the New York Times found that “three-quarters of ‘self-identified Republicans’ supported greater disclosure by outside spending organizations”.

Unfortunately, in the face of an increasing public demand for disclosure by corporations and outside groups, the House Appropriations Committee has inserted provisions in the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that would prohibit the disclosure of secret money designed to influence elections. We request that you strongly oppose the inclusion of these limitations on greater transparency in the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.  The American people have a right to know who is bankrolling elections and who is attempting to influence their votes.  If these legislative restrictions on transparency are not removed, we strongly urge you veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen

Xavier Becerra

Brendan F. Boyle

Robert A. Brady

Julia Brownley

Michael E. Capuano

Jim Costa

Joe Courtney

Elijah E. Cummings

Susan A. Davis

Peter A. DeFazio

John K. Delaney

Rosa L. DeLauro

Suzan K. DelBene

Theodore E. Deutch

Donna F. Edwards

Elliot L. Engel

Anna G. Eshoo

Elizabeth H. Esty

Sam Farr

Raúl M. Grijalva

Alcee L. Hastings

Steny H. Hoyer

Jared Huffman

Steve Israel

John B. Larson

Brenda L. Lawrence

Sander M. Levin

Alan S. Lowenthal

Jim McDermott

James P. McGovern

Jerry McNerney

Beto O’Rourke

Frank Pallone, Jr.

Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Chellie Pingree

David E. Price

Charles B. Rangel

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

John P. Sarbanes

Adam B. Schiff

Louise McIntosh Slaughter

Eric Swalwell

Juan Vargas

Paul D. Tonko

Peter Welch

John A. Yarmuth