Democrats failed Monday to corral enough votes to bring the DISCLOSE Act up for a full debate in the Senate -- another blow to efforts designed to bring anonymous political donors out of the shadows.
The legislation -- sponsored by Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse -- would require any group that spends more than $10,000 during an election cycle to almost immediately disclose any donors who contributed more than $10,000. Some nonprofit groups and unions are not currently required to disclose donors.
The DISCLOSE Act, a version of which also failed in 2010, never really stood much of a chance. Even if the bill had cleared the Republican filibuster late Monday, the GOP-controlled House would almost certainly have moved to kill the legislation.
So how much money falls into the "secret" category?
According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that advocates for more transparency in political giving, a total of $132 million was spent in 2010 by groups that are not required to disclose their donors. Of that, $117 million was spent by conservative groups.
So far in 2012, the distribution has been more equitable. Conservative groups have spent $8 million, while liberals have spent $6.6 million. Of course, many groups are just getting started.
In a statement released Monday, President Obama argued that anonymous political giving by corporations has predictable consequences. "If we allow this practice to continue, special interests will have unprecedented influence over politicians," he said. "It's wrong."
However, the Obama campaign is backed by Priorities USA, a 501 (c)(4) group run by former White House staffers which is not required to disclose its donors.
President Obama has a super PAC problem.
After outspending Sen. John McCain by a wide margin in 2008, the incumbent president is in danger of losing the 2012 money race to Mitt Romney.
Of course it's early, and Obama has a powerful fundraising machine. But the balance of power may well be upset as Republican super PACs have brought in much more money than pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action.
That group, which MORECharles Riley - May 21, 2012 11:39 AM ET
Newt Gingrich's long-foundering presidential run is finally over, but the former House speaker's efforts to pay off his campaign debt are likely just beginning.
The Gingrich campaign, as of the last reporting period, owes $4.3 million to creditors, including pollsters, staffers, consultants, lawyers and event venues.
The campaign owes Moby Dick Airways, an air charter company, more than $1 million. Another $450,000 is owed to a security firm called Patriot Group. Tech MORECharles Riley - May 3, 2012 12:38 PM ET
The Wall Street Journal reports that Mitt Romney's new "Victory Fund" -- a joint effort between the campaign and the Republican National Committee -- has encountered a minor stumbling block.
Deep pocketed Wall Street donors, many of whom are thought to favor Romney, are being warned by their firms to limit donations. Here's the Journal:
"[The Victory Fund] asks donors to give as much as $75,800, including donations to Mr. Romney's primary MORECharles Riley - Apr 23, 2012 12:31 PM ET
The 11% of Americans who still approve of Congress are sure to be disappointed by a new report that shows nepotism is running wild in the halls of the Capitol.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group, took a look at the 435-member House of Representatives and found 248 of them were engaged in activities that warranted inclusion in their report on how lawmakers are using their MORECharles Riley - Mar 22, 2012 10:43 AM ET
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