Hello, midday. I’m on my way to New York to attend the yearly General Assembly of the United Nations. While I’m there, I have a number of meetings. But before I go, I want to quickly talk to you about a vote this week in Congress that, in my opinion, addresses a significant issue with our democracy. Dark Money Erodes Public Trust, Biden Says as he Pushes Disclosure Legislation.
We should just have all of our elections publicly funded, as I had earlier suggested, but I don’t have the backing for that view. The role of money in politics and how we might start to tackle that problem is a second viewpoint that is quite strong.
There’s something I’ve always cared about. Our democracy benefits everyone equally, regardless of income or status, at its best.
But here’s the thing: Too much money flows in secret to have any meaningful impact on our elections. It is known as “dark money”. It’s a secret. Right up until election day, advocacy groups are free to run political advertisements without disclosing the source of their funding.
Powerful special interests run these commercials all too frequently using front groups in order to win at all costs. Dark money loopholes are used by foreign organizations that are prohibited from funding political campaigns to attempt to sway our elections.
And this is only one current illustration. With access to $1.6 billion in dark money, a conservative activist who spent, as was his right, decades trying to get enough conservative justices on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade can now inflict more harm and, in our opinion, limit more freedoms. That’s one of the largest transfers of dark money in our history, as far as we know.
The public was only made aware of this $1.6 billion transfer because one of your reporters received a tip. Otherwise, we would not have known about it. However, now that we are aware, we can take action.
The Disclosure [DISCLOSE] Act will be put to a vote by the Senate this week. The bill was already adopted by House Democrats. Additionally, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island contributed to the writing of this legislation.
Here are some examples of what it might do: Advocacy groups would have to report any contributions over $10,000 that they receive in order to run advertisements to influence elections. Additionally, all funding for these advertisements from foreign organizations would be prohibited.
Democrats and Republicans must work together to approve the Disclosure [DISCLOSE] Act and get it on my desk as soon as possible. And because dark money is now so dominant in our politics, sunshine is the best disinfectant in my opinion. And I am aware that it is a problem for both of them.
The main difference, though, is that Democrats in Congress demand greater transparency and accountability. Republicans in Congress don’t currently. I’m hoping they’ll change.
They should imitate the Republican governors of Tennessee and Wyoming who have enacted disclosure regulations. Recall that eliminating dark money from politics has historically been a bipartisan concern. John McCain, a friend of mine who passed away, devoted a lot of time to the cause of campaign finance reform. It was an issue of basic justice to him. And in that, he was entirely correct.
In the end, it all boils down to public confidence. Public trust is damaged by dark money. We must uphold public confidence. I’m committed to doing that.
In order to sign that measure into law as soon as possible. I would want to thank you all very much and hope that Congress and the Senate would act favorably on this. I’m grateful.