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Alexander Attacks Disclose Act as Democratic Scheme

March 29, 2012
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Thursday criticized a bill that seeks to increase transparency in political spending as a Democratic ploy to stop wealthy Republicans from contributing to their rivals ahead of the 2012 election.

Alexander's remarks came at a Senate Rules Committee hearing on the Disclose Act, a bill introduced last week by Senate Democrats that would require independent organizations that spend at least $10,000 during an election cycle to detail their major donors and expenditures.

Alexander, the committee's ranking member, said the real solution to undisclosed donations was banning limits on campaign contributions, a position long held by conservatives. He argued that eradicating limits would be the end of super PACs because donors would give directly to candidates - contributions that would be disclosed.

"If we took the limits off, we'd solve the disclosure problem," Alexander said, framing campaign contributions as an expression of free speech.

Democratic members of the panel shot back that the influence of wealthy donors threatened democracy and discouraged potential newcomers from running because they lacked connections to big spenders.

"Elections become more about the quantity of cash and less about the quality of ideas," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

And Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said current campaign spending patterns were starting to worry some lawmakers who wonder whether their votes or floor statements might irk some billionaire enough that he would spend millions to defeat them.

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