President Joe Biden on Tuesday renewed his push for Congress to pass a bill aimed at targeting dark money in political campaigns, although the legislation is expected to fail this week due to Republican opposition.
“There is too much money in the shadows to influence our elections. It is called dark money. It’s hidden,” Biden said in a speech at Roosevelt Room.
The president was referring to a $1.6 billion donation from a single donor to a group led by the co-chairman of the conservative Federalist Society, who advised former President Donald Trump on Supreme Court picks and runs a vast network of other right-wing nonprofits. The donation, which CNN reported in August, was the largest politically-focused contribution to a nonprofit ever made public.
“The public found out about this $1.6 billion transfer because someone tipped off some of you reporters. Otherwise, we still wouldn’t have heard of it,” said Biden. “But now we know and there’s something we can do.”
Biden said dark money is a problem in both Republican and Democratic politics, but noted that Republicans in Congress oppose efforts to increase transparency.
“Ultimately this comes from public trust. Dark money erodes public trust. We have to protect the public trust and I am determined to do that,” the president said.
The President’s Speech Since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday that the chamber will hold a procedural vote on the DISCLOSE Act, it is likely to fail due to GOP opposition.
The legislation would require more transparency into what’s behind cryptic, often negative, campaign ads. Most independent groups that pay for political advertising – currently not required to disclose the names of donors – would be required to release the names of those who donate $10,000 or more.
Schumer called dark money “a veil cast over our democracy that must be lifted once and for all.”
He said the legislation would “require Super PACs and other dark money groups to report anyone who contributes $10,000 or more to an election. It would also require groups that spend money on judicial candidates to disclose their donors.”
The bill doesn’t have the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle, but Schumer insisted they will still vote to get GOP members on the record.
“Republicans will have to take a stand if they want to fight the power of dark money or let this cancer grow even worse,” he said.
The DISCLOSE Act first passed the House of Representatives in 2010, and failed twice in the Senate in 2012 with Republican opposition led by Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“This legislation is an unprecedented requirement for groups to publicly disclose their donors, removing a court-enforced protection,” McConnell said in 2012, accusing Democrats of biasing the legislation in favor of labor unions.
And longtime campaign finance reform advocate Sen. John McCain said during a briefing at the time that the bill was a “clever attempt at a political game.”