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23 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 1 (2013-2014)

handle is hein.journals/cjlpp23 and id is 1 raw text is: ARTICLES

Brent Ferguson*
This Article advocates passage of a law requiring members of Con-
gress to disclose the amount of time they spend fundraising.
In the wake of Citizens United and other court decisions severely
limiting lawmakers' ability to regulate campaign spending, many schol-
ars have turned their focus to campaign finance disclosure laws. Ac-
cording to some, laws requiring campaigns and donors to reveal the
source of contributions and expenditures are the last bastion of federal
campaign finance law. Yet despite a history of broad acceptance, disclo-
sure laws rest on an increasingly shaky foundation.
The most troubling aspect of current disclosure law is that it con-
tains loopholes so obvious and irresistible that many political players
choose to spend dark money, the source of which is unidentified. Fur-
ther, some argue that even when the source of political spending is dis-
closed, the information provided to the electorate is of questionable
usefulness for a host of reasons. Finally, opponents of disclosure laws
point to their potential chilling effect and threats of retaliation that can
occur when the public learns who supported a certain candidate or bal-
lot measure. Even those who support disclosure laws have recently con-
ceded that perhaps disclosure requirements should encompass only large
spenders rather than those contributing only a few hundred dollars.
For these reasons, there have been calls to reform federal disclo-
sure law so it is more properly tailored to serve its goals without chilling
speech. Many have proposed effective, intelligent changes that would
improve the disclosure regime greatly. However, the current discussion
about disclosure largely ignores the fact that there is a gaping hole in
disclosure requirements: while the electorate receives some information
about a candidate's financial backers and can learn about a legislator's
votes and other activities, voters cannot discover how much time their
representatives spend raising money. Information about legislators' fun-
* J.D., Columbia Law School 2010. I'd like to thank Professor Richard Briffault for
helpful comments, as well as Chris Ferguson and Lauren Wright. Special thanks to Lilli
Scalettar for her help and support.


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