Montanans advocating for political ad transparency are breathing a sigh of relief now that a federal appeals court has upheld their state's campaign disclosure mandate.
To counteract the unlimited political ad spending allowed by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, Gov. Steve Bullock pushed the requirement into law in 2015. He has ceaselessly promoted this accomplishment In his long-shot presidential campaign, citing it as evidence he's uniquely positioned in the giant Democratic field to extinguish dark money's influence in Washington.
The Montana law requires nonprofit organizations to register with the state as political committees and file disclosures if they spend $250 or more in the final two months of a campaign on advertising or mailers referring to a candidate, political party or ballot initiative. The educational and social welfare groups known as 501(c)(4)s, which usually evade disclosure requirements and are often behind dark money activity, are covered by the requirement.
Wertheimer is the president of Democracy 21, which works to strengthen democracy by ensuring the integrity of our elections and more.
The House passed historic reform legislation to repair and strengthen the rules of our democracy on March 8.
HR 1 is unprecedented, holistic reform legislation to fix our broken political system. It passed on a 234-193 party line vote, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Sarbanes. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Tom Udall with all 46 of his Democratic and independent colleagues as sponsors.
HR 1 provides essential reforms to address what's broken in our political system — money corruption, voter suppression and discrimination, extreme partisan gerrymandering, and government ethics abuses.
Senate Democrats on Tuesday announced they were all behind a constitutional amendment that would shrink the sway of big money in politics.
But the unanimity, while symbolically important for the party's democracy reform messaging in the 2020 campaign, means next to nothing when it comes to actually changing the regulation of campaign finance.
Altering the Constitution requires the support of two-thirds of the Senate and House, plus ratification by 38 states. And Republicans in Congress (and in most of the statehouses) are just as unified in their opposition as the Democratic senators are in favor of their proposal. It would effectively overturn the Supreme Court's landmark 2010 decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission — which held that unlimited political spending by corporations, nonprofit organizations and labor unions was a protected form of free speech — by permitting Congress and states set rules on spending and donations in elections.
This story has been revised after additional reporting.
Steadily if still softly, anxiety about the health of American democracy has become at least a secondary theme in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Proposals for restoring the public's faith in elections, and a sense of fairness in our governing system, have now earned a place on most of the candidates' platforms. And more and more of them have been including calls for democracy reform in their stump speeches.
To be sure, the topic has not come close to the top tier of issues driving the opening stages of the campaign. In the first round of candidate debates last month, for example, the contenders collectively spent less time talking about democracy's ills than eight other issues: health care, President Trump's record, immigration, social policy, economic inequality, gun control, foreign policy and the environment.