COLUMBUS, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a news conference today at the Ohio Statehouse to address the growing problem of anonymous money fueling American elections.
“Democrats and Republicans may disagree on a variety of issues, but we should be aligned when it comes to knowing who is bankrolling U.S. political campaigns. As it stands, we don’t even know whether foreign interests or domestic interests are paying for political advertising in US campaigns—and there’s something deeply wrong with that picture,” Brown said. “The U.S. Chamber should be in the business of supporting U.S. businesses—not foreign interests or multinational corporations that ship jobs overseas. While the U.S. Chamber claims their foreign donors don’t influence their American election spending, they certainly influence the Chamber’s policy positions. And if they’ve got nothing to hide, why would they oppose legislation that requires them to disclose their foreign donors?”
Brown, who served two terms as Ohio’s Secretary of State, discussed a new report by the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog Campaign Money Watch showing that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $566,000 on commercials and campaign spending for U.S. House candidates in Ohio. At the same time, the U.S. Chamber lobbied against a bill that would end tax incentives to companies that offshore and that would give employers a tax credit for jobs brought back from overseas. The U.S. Chamber has also opposed legislation that would require it to disclose donors—including foreign interests—who help fund its election ads.
This week, the Wesleyan Media Project released a study showing that campaign advertising spending is up by nearly 75% over 2008, and that approximately $200 million was spent on political advertising between September 1 and October 7 of this year. The House of Representatives race in Ohio’s 16th District ranks number eight for spending on campaign advertisements.
Brown, who chairs the U.S. Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, also announced today that he will call a hearing on multinational corporations that outsource American jobs and will invite the U.S. Chamber to testify.
In February, Brown announced new legislation aimed at curbing the influence of special interests in Washington. Brown’s bill, which came in the wake of the January Supreme Court ruling that corporations can use company dollars to influence the democratic process, would subject corporate campaign contributions to new measures of transparency and accountability. He is also a cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, which Senate Republicans have refused to debate despite their past calls for transparency in elections.