The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling has made it possible for individual donors to send cash to organizations with little or no disclosure required, and Democratic members of Congress have been looking to legislate new disclosure rules ever since. The latest attempt was an amendment from Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to the FCC reform bill just passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Eshoo’s amendment would “…require broader disclosure from entities purchasing political advertisements through radio, broadcast television, cable and satellite.”
“All Americans have a right to honest information about who has paid for the political messages they receive,” said Rep. Eshoo. “This includes the sponsors of political advertisements—not just the names of sham entities designed to evade disclosure. Americans are besieged by anonymous campaign ads around the clock this year. With disclosure and transparency, the public will be able to decide for themselves because all relevant information about the interests and their impact will be public. Disclosure of an ad’s major donors does not place any undue burdens on speech or industry. It will empower the voters.”
Eshoo’s amendment would have required disclosure of any donation of $10K or greater that went into an ad buy.
It was defeated 30-16.
RBR-TVBR observation: It seems like every time we turn around there is a Republican attempt to overturn network neutrality provisions by hitchhiking on some other legislation. Now the Democrats have an issue to attach to whatever piece of host legislation that catches their attention.
Whatever happens in regards to online political disclosure, it should not – and cannot – be the function of a local broadcaster to ferret out information about where the money comes from that funds an ad-buying organization.