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Biden calls for donor transparency bill; Schumer pledges action this week

The president encouraged Congress to act on the bill, which would require disclosures of donors that give $10,000 or more to a super PAC or a 501(c)(4) group in an election cycle.
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President Joe Biden urged Republicans to work with Democrats to pass legislation that would require the disclosure of donors to dark money groups that raise huge sums of money to influence elections.

"Dark money has become so common in our politics. I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I acknowledge it's an issue for both parties," Biden said Tuesday at the White House. "But here's the key difference: Democrats in the Congress support more openness and accountability. Republicans in Congress, so far, don't."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that he plans to hold a vote on the Democratic bill this week.

“This bill would fight the cancer of dark money in our elections and require dark money groups to report campaign contributions,” Schumer said in a statement.

The legislation would require disclosures of donors that give $10,000 or more to a super PAC or a 501(c)(4) group in an election cycle. It has been repeatedly introduced over the last decade, and it is unlikely to gain Republican support after years of opposition. There are no Republican co-sponsors.

Democrats initially drafted the so-called Disclose Act as a response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, which allows unlimited spending by corporations and unions on elections. Schumer’s announcement comes months after he said the bill would receive a vote in the full chamber.

Biden said Tuesday, "There's much too much money that flows in the shadows to influence our elections."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Monday that he would support the bill “even if it were the case” that Democrats now raise more money from anonymous donors than Republicans.

“The important thing is — what I’d like to see is that we could get together as Democrats and Republicans and put an end to this poisonous nonsense in our political system,” Whitehouse said. “And unfortunately, I think what we’ll see is that the Republicans have become so dependent on it and so enamored of it that they will fight to protect it rather than fight for cleaning up our democracy.”

Top Senate Republicans reiterated their opposition this year to new requirements on the disclosure of donors. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee issued a series of attacks on left-leaning “dark money,” in particular the organization Demand Justice, amid then-Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings.

“I’m in favor of the way campaigns and issues are currently funded,” McConnell said in March, referring to independent 501(c)(4) groups that can raise hefty sums of money and conceal donors. “There are rational reasons for not having disclosure for those entities. That’s been my position for a quarter of a century and remains my position.”