Senate Democrats fall short on campaign disclosure bill

Frustrated by large amounts of outside money flowing to independent groups that favor Republicans in this year's elections, Democrats tried but failed to push a bill through the Senate on Monday that would have forced public disclosure of individuals behind those contributions.

Democrats were eight votes short of the 60 needed to force action in the Senate, as no lawmaker from either party broke ranks on the issue.

"Are they interested in my state?" asked Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), part of a parade of Democrats who spoke on the Senate floor until after midnight.

"I think they're interested in their own agenda and buying elections," said Nelson, who was followed by a number of other Democrats who are involved in tough re-election races.

"The DISCLOSE Act would make CEO's do what political candidates do when you pay for political advertising," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who argued there is nothing wrong with telling the public who is paying for the ad.

"You face the camera and you tell the voters you sponsored a commercial," said Brown, who faces his own big money challenge in the Buckeye State.

But Republicans scoffed at the legislative bid by Democrats, arguing that it was really an effort to give unions an edge over business groups by requiring disclosure for groups that spend more than $10,000.

Republicans argued that $10,000 provision could allow small union locals to spend below that amount and avoid any disclosure requirements, a charge that Democrats belittled.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reserved his right to force another procedural vote on this issue, but despite that and the Democratic talkathon into the wee hours of Tuesday morning, this is another matter that's not going anywhere this election year.