LIMA — Fresh off a pricey re-election bid, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he wants to see more accountability and disclosure in the nation’s campaign finance laws.
Brown on Wednesday said momentum is growing and he hopes to soon see passage of the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or DISCLOSE Act. Brown said more than $40 million in outside special interest money was spent on the U.S. Senate race in Ohio between Brown and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican.
“Special interests should not have a louder voice in our democracy than middle-class families. In 2012, powerful out-of-state special interests tried to buy our election, pouring more than $40 million into attacks against me,” Brown said. “While Ohioans proved they couldn’t be bought, we need to get the big money out of politics by improving transparency and ensuring greater accountability for corporate special interests that are seeking to influence our elections.”
Specifically, there are three elements Brown wants to see addressed: enhanced disclosure, required shareholder approval of corporate political expenditures, and an IRS investigation of nonprofit status of super PACs disguised as “social welfare” organizations.
“Clearly the public supports this stuff. People in Ohio were sick of these ads, they were sick of the nastiness of them,” Brown said. “They understood intuitively, one of the reasons I won the election, is people began to think, ‘Why are they spending all this money against Brown and who are these people?’ I tried to help them fill in the blanks. We figured it was Wall Street, we figure it was companies that outsource, we figure it was oil companies that were spending this money.”
Brown said he has no preconceived notion that passage of the legislation would mean an end to these kind of ads.
“It won’t stop the spending. It will tell the public who’s spending,” Brown said. “Ultimately, we want to get to a constitutional amendment or a different Supreme Court ruling that will stop this outside money, generally. But, for now, all we can do is require them to tell you who it is.”