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Rep. Van Hollen Pressures Senate To Vote On Transparency

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Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland is the sponsor of a bill that passed the U.S. House to bring more transparency into elections. Now he is pressuring his counterparts in the U.S. Senate to vote on the measure.

In the 2006 midterm election, not even $80 million was spent by outside groups. This year, that number more than tripled, shooting up to nearly $300 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Analysts say the drastic increase is a result of the highly publicized Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which allows unlimited secret spending from corporations and unions.

Van Hollen got a bill through the House called the DISCLOSE Act, which requires corporations and unions to divulge which campaigns they're spending money on. He says the Senate needs to address the issue when they come back on Nov. 15.

"So I think there's a window right now, in these next couple of months to try to push this issue forward. People have just seen all the consequences of this secret money piling into elections," Van Hollen said in an interview with WAMU News.

When they return next week, senators have a tight schedule, but many supporters of campaign finance reform say the lame duck session is the only window to get the bill passed in the next two years.

Some have called the bill flawed because it exempts the National Rifle Association and labor unions from some or all disclosure requirements. But supporters say those concessions were necessary to garner support.

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