Sen. John McCain
(R-Ariz.) has been a vocal critic of the Supreme Court's Citizens United
ruling, but will he try to build a bipartisan coalition for campaign finance reform? He said last month that the amount of money - much of it secret - flowing into politics will lead to scandals, and vowed, "We will fight again," as our colleague John Aloysius Farrell reports
McCain could have his fight this summer--if he truly wants one. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring a basic reform proposal--the so-called Disclose Act--to the floor, maybe in June. The bill is drafted to meet the Supreme Court's standards: It places no limits on speech but requires immediate disclosure on the Internet (as the justices suggested) of donations and expenditures of more than $10,000. The legislation would close the "dark-money" loopholes that have let donors make secret gifts of as much as $10 million to political groups like Crossroads GPS. "Disclosure of corporate, union, and independent spending in our elections is the key" and the act "accomplishes that fundamental purpose," the League of Women Voters said in endorsing the measure.
For their part, when opposing McCain-Feingold and other reform proposals in recent years, GOP leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have proffered "transparency" as their preferred solution. Yet the bill has no Republican sponsors in the Senate, and GOP House leaders have greeted it with hostility. With control of both chambers up for grabs and a Democratic president who can use the powers of incumbency to raise money, the Republican leaders want all their options open. "Republicans are profiting," McCain admits. If the past serves as a guide, Congress won't budge until public outrage--perhaps over the scandals that McCain foresees--compels the lawmakers to act.