House Democrats plan to introduce a new version of the DISCLOSE Act that would affect super PACs – and they’re debuting a new tongue-in-cheek Web video taking aim at Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert in an effort to get their message across.
In the new spot, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) states that Colbert “must be stopped.”
“Stephen Colbert used to be my friend,” Pelosi says in the video. “I even signed the poor baby’s cast when he hurt his hand. But since the day he started his super PAC, taking secret money from special interests, he’s been out of control – even using his super PAC to attack my friend, Newt Gingrich.”
A clip from the TV spot in which Gingrich and Pelosi are sitting on a couch together flashes on the screen.
“And if that weren’t enough, I hear he doesn’t even like kittens,” Pelosi says of Colbert. “Colbert must be stopped. I’m Nancy Pelosi, and I support this ad, because Americans deserve a better tomorrow today. Join me in stopping Colbert and creating a new politics free of special interest money. The first step is passing the DISCLOSE Act. Learn more at Facebook.com/StopColbert.”
The DISCLOSE Act is not new – the original version of the legislation passed the House in June 2010 but failed in the Senate a month later. The measure’s latest iteration, which is being introduced this afternoon, would tighten reporting requirements for corporations and nonprofits as well as super PACs, the groups that came into being following two Supreme Court rulings in 2010 and can accept donations of unlimited size.
But the Democrats’ renewed focus on the measure (which is an acronym for the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act) blurs some of the lines when it comes to super PACs and disclosure of campaign donations – and Pelosi’s charge that super PACs take “secret money from special interests” is somewhat off the mark.
The main target of the proposed disclosure requirements included in the original DISCLOSE Act were nonprofits, trade groups and other organizations that are not required to disclose donors under IRS and FEC rules because politics is not their “primary purpose.”
The Obama campaign itself announced this week that it is giving its blessing to a pro-Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action – and in doing so, reiterated its point that it will only support groups (such as super PACs) that fully disclose their donors.
On top of that, it’s also worth noting that Pelosi herself has actively raised funds for the House Majority PAC, a super PAC set up to assist Democrats in the House (and which recently spent more than $300,000 in the Oregon House special election). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has done the same for a sister group on the Senate side.
So, taking aim at Colbert may be a way for congressional Democrats to draw attention to the broader cause of disclosure, but it’s not accurate to say that super PACs benefit from “secret” donations – or that Democrats are opposed to the very notion of the groups themselves.