Merkley Responds: Senate Committee Hearing on DISCLOSE Act to Shine Light on Dark Money in Elections

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after participating in the Senate Rules Committee hearing on the DISCLOSE Act—a hearing he requested to shine a light on dark money in our electoral system:

“Our nation was founded not on aristocracy or royal bloodlines but on a simple yet revolutionary idea: that the people are in charge. Abraham Lincoln said it best: The United States is a ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ What that means is that we, the elected officials, work for the people. They elect us. The people are in charge. But this idea, this vision, this government by and for the people cannot survive if our elections are not open, fair, and free.

“The essence of the First Amendment is that competing voices should be heard in the marketplace of ideas—but by equating money and speech and treating corporations as people, the Citizens United Supreme Court decision gave the largest corporations and billionaires a stadium sound system they can use to drown out the voice of the American people.

“And dark money lets those special interests hide their identities, making it impossible for Americans to know which groups are pouring money into our elections, and what motivates them. If you get an email asking you for money, you want to know if it’s from your mom or a self-described Nigerian prince. It’s impossible to evaluate the merits of what you’re hearing if you don’t know who is saying it.

“The DISCLOSE Act would let the American people know who is behind dark money– there’s no place in democracy for secret expenditures by special interests to buy our elections.

“We work for the American people – for waitresses and truck drivers and home health aides and firefighters, not for the tiny fraction of the top one percent who have hoarded enough wealth to fund superPACs. I urge all my colleagues to support this legislation and stop billionaires from secretly buying our elections.”

Senator Merkley has been a longtime supporter of the DISCLOSE Act and has worked tirelessly over the years to bring awareness to the legislation and call upon colleagues to put the interests of the American people over those of powerful special interests.