Talking about her retirement to Businessweek in June, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision:
“I regret that the Supreme Court rolled back 100 years of case law and precedence. It was my initial provision in the McCain-Feingold bill (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act or BCRA) that was struck down a second time in the court. But then obviously they went quantum leaps further, unfortunately, and unraveled all the case law, allowing corporations and unions to dump unlimited money into these campaigns.”
In 2010, she said the decision was a “serious disservice to our country."
In 2005, Snowe said in a press release: “The American people demand integrity in their elected officials and in the electoral process, and the campaign donation limits and disclosure requirements in BCRA help meet that goal.”
Her Maine colleague, Sen. Susan Collins (R), has also previously supported campaign finance and disclosure measures, including voting for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
Both have sponsored legislation that would increase transparency of Senate fundraising by requiring Senators to file their quarterly reports electronically (today, they file on paper).
In 2010, when she voted against the 2010 DISCLOSE Act on “process” grounds, and because of controversial “carve-outs,” Collins said this:
"Let me be clear. I support campaign finance reform. Americans have the right to know who is contributing to political campaigns. Throughout my time in the Senate, I have consistently worked for greater transparency in our campaign financing system.”
Next week, the Senate will vote on a new version of DISCLOSE. The 2012 DISCLOSE Act isn’t as broad as the 2010 version and the carve-outs Collins mentioned are gone. The secret money flooding our elections, though, is only going up.
Corporations and wealthy special interests don't spend money to influence elections just because they have extra lying around. They want to elect politicians to give them special tax breaks and loopholes. And the American people get stuck with the bill. Voters deserve to know who's funding our elected leaders’ campaign coffers and why.
Transparency won’t sever the ties between politicians and special interests—but it’s a step in the right direction.
What will Sens. Collins and Snowe do next week? Will they stand with Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has called such transparency “Nixonian,” or for common sense measures to ensure the American people know exactly who’s trying to buy our elections?