Eight in 10 Americans believe that there is too much money in American politics, and only 17 percent agree with the Supreme Court that corporations should be allowed to spend unlimited money to try to influence elections.
Yet top Republicans are coalescing around the idea that current campaign finance laws — which still prohibit corporations and wealthy individuals from giving unlimited money directly to campaigns — are actually too restrictive. Judging from interviews with ThinkProgress and Republican campaign speeches over the past two months, the GOP’s standard response to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling has solidified: allow for unlimited contributions directly to candidates while requiring immediate disclosure.
The language used by different high-ranking Republicans is so similar that it suggests a certain level of message-coordination on the subject. Indeed, from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) to Republican money man Fred Malek, their reactions to campaign finance laws are virtually identical:
- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: “The better position is to allow full and free speech in whatever form, but have instant disclosure.” [1/21/12]
- Top Republican Money Figure Fred Malek: “I would favor unlimited contributions to candidates with full disclosure.” [1/27/12]
- Presidential candidate Mitt Romney: “We’d be a lot wiser to say you can give what you’d like to a campaign. They must report it immediately…” [12/21/11]
Although Republican supporters of unlimited money in politics seem to have decided that supporting campaign disclosures is an important part of their messaging strategy, the GOP’s actions betray any suggestion that they actually stand behind transparency. Following Citizens United, Democrats introduced the DISCLOSE Act to bring more transparency to the murky world of campaign finance. It passed the House in 2010 but failed to break a Republican filibuster by a single vote.
In other words, Republicans seem to care a whole lot more about letting corporations and the very rich buy elections than they do about protecting the American people’s ability to know about it.