Wyden Urges for Senate Passage of the DISCLOSE Act
As Prepared for Delivery
I’m pleased to join several of my Democratic colleagues on the floor to talk about the DISCLOSE Act. There’s one element of the bill that I want to focus on briefly this afternoon.
The country is now about a month and a half out from election day. In Oregon and all across the country, Americans are getting bludgeoned with political advertising each and every time they turn on the television or the radio or watch a video online.
It is a nasty, aggravating, inescapable part of life in America ever since John Roberts and the other Republicans on the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to dark money in our elections.
In fact, all this toxic political advertising is no longer confined to the weeks or months before election day. It’s year round, all the time.
It’s ad after ad predicting doom based on a bill up for debate in Congress, or a candidate running for election.
I can tell you firsthand. This year, Big Pharma threw the kitchen sink at me with their attack ads because of the effort here in the Senate to finally allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.
In short, the bill I proposed, and that the Senate eventually passed, was an effort to do something about the years and years of price gouging by drug companies. It was overwhelmingly supported by health policy experts and by the American people.
But based on Big Pharma’s attack ads, you’d think the bill was going to send us back to the medicine of the Dark Ages, bloodletting and leeches. Absolute nonsense beamed directly into everybody’s living rooms and offices. And this is happening all the time.
A little of my own history on this issue. Twenty years ago I wrote the original “Stand By Your Ad” law. It said that politicians would have to put their name behind their attack ads going after their opponents.
That law worked well, and it’s still on the books today. But it means less in the era of Dark Money. The people paying for Dark Money ads aren’t required to put their names behind what they’re saying.
That’s a huge blow against transparency in our democracy. Oregonians and people all across the country are rightfully disgusted by it.
Those of us who are here having these debates every day recognize a Big Pharma ad when we see one.
But the people back home are just looking for some entertainment at the end of a long day of work. They shouldn’t be forced to wonder what corporation or special interest is funding the ads that come from murky groups with names like “The Coalition for Prosperity and Justice.”
If you believe in your argument, you ought to stand up and put your name behind your ad. Otherwise the American people are left in the dark, and that’s not how democracy is supposed to work.
The DISCLOSE Act includes an expansion of my Stand By Your Ad law. It would require the heads of corporations, unions or other organizations to identify when they’re behind political ads the same way politicians do under the original version of the law. It treats everybody the same — groups on the right, groups on the left.
This is just common sense stuff — hardly a radical, left-wing proposal. The American people ought to know who’s trying to influence their votes.
Considering that Stand By Your Ad used to be a bipartisan proposition, it’s shameful that Republicans have protected dark money and blocked the DISCLOSE Act for a decade.
I’m happy to join my colleagues to talk about this issue today. We’re going to keep fighting to get this bill passed. And the American people need to vote this November for more transparency in our government.
Keith Chu (Wyden) (202) 224-5244
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