Preview: Van Hollen's Shadow Money Speech
Senate Democrats introduced the bill, which lacked any Republican co-sponsors. It would require independent groups spending $10,000 or more to disclose major donors and spending. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has long been in favor of full disclosure of political contributions, came out against the Disclose Act last week.
McConnell made his statements during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute that the Disclose Act "is nothing less than an effort by the government itself to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation."
"Throughout my career, I...have consistently called for the full and timely disclosure of all contributions to candidates and parties," McConnell said. "What we are talking about here is entirely different. What this bill calls for is government-compelled disclosure of contributions to all grassroots groups, which is far more dangerous than its proponents are willing to admit."
Van Hollen told the Alley that "everyone's jaw dropped" at McConnell's statements, and "I'm surprised by the sheer audacity of reversing yourself so blatantly on a matter of principle."
"His short term calculation is Republican congressional candidates and other Republican candidates benefit from the flow of secret money to these organizations," Van Hollen said.
But it's not just Super PACs that are funneling money to candidates. A report this week showed that nonprofits outspent Super PACs in political spending during the 2010 election cycle. And nonprofits aren't compelled to disclose donor information.
"A lot of these political groups are disguising themselves as educational and charitable groups in order to funnel secret money to election campaigns," Van Hollen said.
(Photo: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. AP Photo/Evan Vucci)