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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus

News

Secret money has no place in elections

Monday, Nov. 8, 2010

With the election behind us, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus congratulates the newly elected and returning policy makers at the local, state, and federal level.

But as we look back on this contentious election, we are troubled by the huge sums of cash from secret sources that went into campaign advertising.

The tens of millions of dollars in secret money spent in this election – much of it on negative advertising that poisoned the airways – are a recipe for scandal. Voters were overwhelmed by millions of dollars in negative ads but did not know who paid for many of them. Pay-to-play politics will not change until we know the identity of the special interests pouring money into our elections.

Because of the failure of Congress to act after the Citizens United decision earlier this year, there are no disclosure requirements governing the huge amounts of money that the Supreme Court recently turned loose in American politics. Voters will be hard pressed to know if their elected officials are in Washington to serve the public interest or the special interests.

The League calls on Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections. We also call on Congress to preserve and extend ethics enforcement. With the election awash in special-interest money, this is no time to cut back on the enforcement of ethics standards in Washington.

The money poured into recent elections has been unprecedented. The League believes that voters, not money, should be at the center of our democracy. We will continue our decades of work in helping citizens debate the issues in a civil and effective way while fighting for transparency, accountability, and disclosure in America’s elections.

This piece was submitted to The Columbus Dispatch, This Week Community Newspapers, and Suburban News Publications as a letter to the editor.