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House Holds Hearing on Citizens United Bill

House Democrats gaveled open on Tuesday their second public hearing addressing a recent Supreme Court campaign finance decision that they say will flood the electoral system with special-interest cash.

The high court’s January decision removed most restrictions on television ad buys by corporations, trade associations, labor unions and other nonprofit groups.

The bill, called the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, would enhance disclosure requirements and ban Troubled Asset Relief Program recipients, foreign companies and government contractors from buying the ads.

The legislation is co-sponsored by House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Republican Reps. Mike Castle (Del.) and Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.).

In a prepared opening statement, Brady called the legislation a “fair solution to the Supreme Court’s overturning of decades of campaign finance precedent.”

“The bill does not play political favorites. It applies alike to corporations, labor unions, trade associations and nonprofit advocacy organizations,” he said. “Too often corporations secretly funnel money to sham third-party groups who then engage in political spending. While this campaign spending is meant to further the political interests of the corporate donors, voters are never informed of the true source of the funds.”

The hearing began 5 p.m. Tuesday. The witness list included Republican campaign finance lawyers Michael Toner, William McGinley and Trevor Potter, a lawyer for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the Campaign Legal Center.

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