A first priority for Congress: Disclosure of secret donors

Akron Beacon Journal

With Election Day now behind us, the late October onslaught of televised campaign advertisements has now yielded to spots for the latest and greatest deals on holiday gifts. And while hearing Christmas jingles before the first snowfall might be irritating, at least Americans know who's bankrolling them.

Not so for many of this year's campaign ads, which blared virtually nonstop from our televisions. Thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, they were funded courtesy of anonymous corporations and secret spenders. So we know who is hawking the Snuggie on TV, but not the U.S. Senate seat.

A recent Akron Beacon Journal editorial (''They've got a secret,'' Nov. 1) highlighted the insidious effect of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and the growing problem of anonymous money in political campaigns.

The nonstop barrage of political advertisements is just one effect of the radical decision to overturn a century of well-established campaign finance law and give corporations the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. A more dangerous result is the threat to democracy posed by these campaign donors — which could include foreign interests or corporations that ship jobs overseas — who hide in the shadows.

Less than a year since the decision was announced, campaign advertising spending has skyrocketed by nearly 75 percent over the 2008 election. The story of Ohio's Canton-area 16th U.S. House District — where outside interest group dollars poured in at a record rate — was repeated in races all across the country.

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A first priority for Congress: Disclosure of secret donors »