Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) proposed campaign finance reform on Thursday that will seek to walk back the funding possibilities opened up by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Thursday, Murkowski and Wyden make their case for the proposal:
Under our proposal, any organization engaging in federal political activity of any kind, from candidacy to advocacy, would be required to disclose their donors in real time. The law would apply to every candidate running for office and every billionaire hoping to influence an election. The same rules would apply equally to corporations, nonprofits and every type of organization in between, so long as they are using money to try to influence elections, as well as to labor union political funds and “right to work” organizations.
In the op-ed, the pair wrote that they are "uncomfortable" with Citizens United, and said unlimited corporate spending is "corrosive to democracy." Murkowski and Wyden are "seeking suggestions that will streamline the law, close loopholes and achieve a cleaner, more open process," they wrote.
Wyden and Murkowski have offered a blueprint of their proposal on Wyden's website.
Outside groups, including super PACs, spent around $600 million in the 2012 election, according to ProPublica. While super PACs must disclose their donors, nonprofit groups like the Karl Rove-founded Crossroads GPS, which spent $70.9 million to influence the 2012 election, do not.
Campaign finance reform has faced major hurdles in Congress. The Disclose Act, an effort to require nonprofits, unions, corporations and super PACs to report donors who have given $10,000 or more after they have made $10,000 in independent expenditures, has failed three times in the Senate, most recently two times in July. The bill failed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, despite a 53-45 majority voting for it.
Murkowski's support for campaign finance reform has been much expected by those pushing for legislation in response to Citizens United and the flood of undisclosed money into elections. In 2010, independent conservative groups newly empowered by the Court's ruling helped defeat her in a primary campaign against Joe Miller. Murkowski, with continued opposition from independent groups, successfully ran as a write-in candidate in the general election to defeat Miller.
Up until now, however, Murkowski has opposed efforts to rein in the increase in undisclosed campaign money. She voted in 2010 and again in 2012 to filibuster the Disclose Act. In 2010, only one vote was needed to break the Republican filibuster on the disclosure bill, but no Republican -- including Murkowski -- would vote to allow debate on the legislation.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has said that he will try to reintroduce the bill in the next Congress.