On Thursday, as was predicted, Senate Republicans blocked legislation to stop billionaires and corporate interests from secretly buying elections.
The DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would have forced dark money groups to disclose their donors, among other reforms, failed to advance by a party-line vote of 49-49.
During the proceedings, to argue that the law was needed, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) cited The Lever’s investigative reporting on how Chicago surge protector tycoon Barre Seid funneled $1.6 billion to Marble Freedom Trust, a dark money group run by the conservative operative who helped stack the Supreme Court to overturn federal protections for abortion rights.
“How did we learn about Barre Seid giving $1.6 billion to this Marble Freedom Trust?” asked Durbin. “Someone leaked it to the newspapers, otherwise it would have gone unnoticed. This is in fact the world of dark and secret money.”
Durbin was echoing comments made by President Joe Biden earlier this week during his speech demanding passage of the DISCLOSE Act.
“The public only found out about this $1.6 billion transfer because someone tipped off some of you reporters, otherwise we still wouldn’t know about it,” said Biden.
To pass major electoral reforms like the DISCLOSE Act, Democrats have to end the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 votes to pass most legislation. Corporatist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have thus far refused to eliminate or reform the filibuster, because it protects corporate interests.
The filibuster operates as corporate America’s kill switch, allowing lawmakers like Manchin and Sinema to pretend they support popular legislation, while knowing full well that any initiatives that threaten the power and influence of the wealthy or corporations will never become law.
As such, the DISCLOSE Act failed Thursday, just as it did in 2010 and 2012, and the dark money era will continue.