- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2010

An attempt by Democratic senators to impose strict disclosure requirements on political campaign donations for ads paid for by corporations, unions and other organizations has failed for the second time this year.

Republicans on Wednesday, as they did in July, used a filibuster to block the measure on the grounds it would stifle free speech. The measure failed to advance by a procedural vote of 59-39 — one vote shy of the 60 needed to proceed to a final vote. Every Republican senator in the chamber voted to keep the filibuster alive.

The legislation was a direct response to the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in January that struck down most limits on corporate and union spending in elections on the grounds that they violated First Amendment guarantees of free speech. That case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, prompted President Obama to chastise the court during his State of the Union speech this year.

The bill calls for new donor- and contribution-disclosure requirements on most groups that spend money on political advertisements but are not affiliated with a candidate or political party. The sponsor of the ad would be required to appear in the ad and claim responsibility for it.

Democrats denied the measure would inhibit free speech. Instead, they said the measure was needed in order to provide greater transparency for special-interest groups that fund campaign ads without disclosing their activity.

“The bill before us has nothing to do with public financing; it simply has to do with disclosure,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, who drafted the bill.

Mr. Schumer said the Supreme Court decision created a legal loophole that allows special-interest groups to funnel money anonymously into political campaigns.

“The intent is to deceive the public and hide the real motive of those spending on these ads,” he said.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@washingtontimes.com.

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