On Senate Floor: Shaheen Highlights the Corrosive Influence of Dark Money in PoliticsDecember 12, 2018
**Shaheen Urges Colleagues to Take Action to Overturn the Trump Administration’s Rule that Would Open Up Our Elections to Even More Secret Spending**
**Watch Shaheen’s remarks in full here**
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor highlighting the corrosive influence of dark money in politics and urging her colleagues to overturn a recent Trump administration rule that would increase the amount of dark money allowed in the political process. Following Shaheen’s floor remarks, the Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn this rule, which Shaheen cosponsored, passed the Senate 50-49. Shaheen underscored how the Trump administration’s actions would open up our political system to hundreds of millions more dollars in secret political spending.
“Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United our political system has been flooded – absolutely flooded – with money from special interest groups,” said Shaheen, noting that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, independent expenditures on campaigns went from $203 million in 2010, the year of the Citizens United decision, to $1.48 billion in 2016. “This is a massive influx of money into our elections that undermines the confidence of the American people in our political system. It creates an environment that is ripe for corruption and inappropriate influence, and it sows further disenchantment among the electorate and impacts participation in our democracy. It allows voters to believe that their voices are less important than businesses with a bigger checkbook.”
Shaheen underscored the risks of the Trump administration’s rule, noting “The change risks impeding law enforcement efforts to track money laundering in our political system and it makes it more likely that foreign money will illegally influence our elections. Under this new rule, organizations that made over $197 million in independent expenditures during the 2016 election cycle would now be exempt – totally exempt – from disclosing who those donors were to the IRS. The door will now be open to hundreds of millions more in dark money from secret groups with hidden agendas trying to buy an election with money and influence.”
“These dark money groups have increased in size and scope since the Citizens United decision as they have recognized the opportunity to influence elections with no accountability,” continued Shaheen, noting that we have already seen how malicious actors at home and abroad can exploit the secretive campaign finance process to influence our democracy.
In closing, Shaheen urged members on both sides of the aisle to take action, noting that “Congress has a duty to ensure the integrity and security of our electoral process. We’ve got to eliminate dark money contributions as we do this. Dark money has a corrosive influence in our democratic process because it erodes trust in our institutions. It distorts the motives of our elected representatives, and perhaps most important, the American people have a right to know if the candidates they choose to represent them are supported by foreign groups and shady special interests.”
Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to crack down on dark money, cosponsoring the DISCLOSE Act that would require organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding. Critically, this legislation would block foreign money from entering U.S. elections and ensure transparency and accountability in campaign financing.
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