McConnell Looks to House for Firewall Against Campaign Finance Reform

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After an election that saw unprecedented amounts of secret money, which left voters in the dark about who was trying to influence their vote, The Hill reports that more and more Republican senators are discussing the need for better disclosure laws.

That leaves Capitol Hill’s biggest booster of big money, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in a tough spot. Fearing that his own caucus members might support the modest disclosure measures in the DISCLOSE Act, McConnell recently spoke before the House Republican Study Committee to try to build a firewall against reform.

Back in the Senate, The Hill reports that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former reform champion, have all discussed supporting some version of disclosure legislation in the next Congress to help ease voters’ concerns about big money influence.

In many ways, this merely harkens back to the days when disclosure had about as much bipartisan supports as moms and apple pie, as Public Campaign has noted previosuly. Even McConnell himself is on record saying that: "Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate."

Now, however, McConnell opposes any reforms that might shed light on who is spending money in elections or that would limit the ability of big money special interests to continue to influence Washington. And while he might claim his change of opinion was on First Amendment grounds, it’s worth remembering that unlimited secret money has overwhelmingly benefitted Republicans, and that McConnell once identified the three biggest priorities for building up a political party as “Money, money, money.”

McConnell will likely find it increasingly difficult to fend off sensible reforms to put voters at the forefront of our elections, as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) expressed: “This is one of those issues where the public is with us in enormous numbers and where very significant Republicans are on the record supporting it. So they have to perform some very contorted pretzel configurations to dodge what they’ve said in the past and is obviously the right thing to do.”