Senate Democrats to hold Super PAC hearings
February 1st, 2012
06:39 PM ET
11 years ago

Senate Democrats to hold Super PAC hearings

Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats announced Tuesday they will hold hearings beginning later this month examining what they see as the negative impact of super PACs on the election process.

They also will work to develop legislation to require the disclosure of all donors to the increasingly powerful political organizations.

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At the hearings, Democrats will ask organizers and possibly donors to testify.

"The more the public learn about this, the more reviled they will be about what's happening," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York. "That involves having hearings and asking people why they gave and what motivated them. Showing people the affects."

Democrats wouldn't say who they would ask to testify, but at a news conference they repeatedly complained about two organizations run by Republican Karl Rove that raised $51 million last year - $33 million of which came from undisclosed donors.

Super PACs are flooding the airwaves with advertising during the Republican presidential primaries and caucuses.

"There is a huge disjunction between the political community that sees this just as new fields to plow and the broader American public which is revolted," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, who will chair a new Democratic task force on the issue. "I don't care if you're the most diehard progressive or a staunch tea partier, I think there is agreement right across the spectrum that corporate spending, anonymous and unlimited in our political campaigns is bad for America and out of control."

Schumer said political organizations run by Democrats should also join the reform effort.

"To every super PAC, Democratic or Republican, join us in cleaning up this mess," Schumer said.

A Democratic bill in the Senate in 2010 to increase disclosure of donors to some of these groups fell short when all Republicans voted against it. Republicans were concerned the Democrats' bill would have restricted free speech and tilted the playing field in favor of the Democrats ahead of the mid-term elections.

The new push by Democrats is aimed at pressuring Republicans to reconsider their opposition.

"We're going to have to get public pressure on our colleagues, the Republicans, to make this happen," Schumer said. "I don't believe they will step forward on their own. There's too much party pressure on them."

Also see:

Romney: Convention or bust

Santorum looks past Florida

New anti-Obama ad slams Solyndra 'fiasco'

Romney to receive Secret Service protection

Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Democrats • Fundraising • Senate
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. jerry

    I'd say obama and the dems are on the run....because once the GOP guy is selected the bucks are gona come in...and big time. Obama is finished and the destruction to the democratic party will take many years to fix...I don't think they can even call themselves democrats anymore...and fact is Romney is center left and this is where the real voter is. This is what happens when you elect a real extream politician...they drag the party down. If obama, as other presidents have done, would have been a leader and pulled everyone together things would be different...all great Presidents have built concensus and gotten things done. This obama experiment is over.

    February 1, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. 60's survivor

    I believe THAT cat is out of the bag!!!! I'd love to see superpacs done away with. It sounds totally unconstitutional and mistepresentave of REAL voters

    February 1, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. MidWestern Boy

    Either the Democrats are concerned about American politics or they are concerned they will be outspent,
    Take your pick.
    Coming from the party where the candidate from 2008 (Mr.Obama) pledged he would take public funding, then withdrew that pledge when Wall Street monety and public donations rolled in to his campaign, please forgive me for being cynical on the motives of the Democrat party..

    February 1, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. Data Driven

    Only constant exposure will even slightly mitigate the malignant effects of Citizens United.

    Question for the lawyers here: does Citizens legally guarantee anonymity?

    February 1, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  5. george of the jungle

    this should get bipartisan endorsment. I have been hearing lots of complaints from the repos. it is a mess for politics in general. worst decision the supreme court has ever made. our political leaders will be choosen by who has the most money.

    February 1, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  6. Former Republican, now an Independent

    I would not be at all surprised to find out that some of these major contributors to the Super PACs backing Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are residents of foriegn countries. Nothing from Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS would surprise me, as he would take donations from satan himself.

    February 1, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  7. Teena

    So all the republican senators voted against a prior bill- so what about sen. McCain? Hasn't he been railing against the big money donated to super pads? Hypocrites

    February 1, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  8. scott

    This is rich, Looks like the Dems are afaird of the Republicans Super Pacs, as they out spend and take in more money then the Dems Super pacs ever will. Now the Dems are crying, boo hoo to bad.

    February 1, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. Kyle

    "That involves having hearings and asking people why they gave and what motivated them."

    Does this bother anyone else? The message is basically saying that if you gave money to a Republican SuperPAC, the Democrat Senators may call you in for questioning about why you gave money to them. They are using their power to force people on the other side to tell why they do what they do.

    I don't mind if these people give this information voluntarily, but to use the power of Congress to summon people to answer for their donations is a disturbing thought, whether it is done by Democrats or Republicans. It's almost like they're bullying people into not giving. If you give, you may be hauled in for questioning.

    Maybe I'm being paranoid (I'm almost sounding like a conspiracy theorist). It just doesn't sit right in my stomach. You should be able to give without having to explain yourself to people who oppose your candidate.

    February 1, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  10. That guy

    Solution: ban all private campaign donations. Publicly funded elections where all candidates get a modest budget and free air time. Also ban all lobbying. Problem solved.

    February 1, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would like to know where this money is coming from and those people's agenda. I don't trust them. There should be less money in politics.

    February 1, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  12. Guess What

    WHY Not pass some JOBS BILLS, you idiots

    February 2, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Skip the hearings and go right to Constitutional Amendments. That is the only way to undo the damage caused by our corrupt corporate-owned Supreme Court.

    February 2, 2012 07:18 am at 7:18 am |