Big new streams of corporate money are flowing into political races, and a group of elected officials, mostly from the Democratic Party, says it's a problem.
New York City's Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio, says a Supreme Court decision earlier this year, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission gave corporations permission to do something ordinary citizens can't do -- spend as much money as they like, anonymously, to support or oppose a candidate for office.
"The closer we get to election day the more evidence we see of corporate dollars being poured into elections around the country, and much of it secretly," de Blasio said.
He says so far this season, federal records show outside groups have spent $1.4 million on political ads in New York State. Under the law, these independent groups must report their expenditures, but not the sources of their revenue.
De Blasio has has teamed up with officials from California, Illinois and Pennsylvania to pressure corporations to fully disclose their direct spending on political ads. Most of de Blasio's partners in this effort, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, are Democrats.
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley are among several New York-based firms that have pledged to disclose their political spending.
Campaign Cash: The Independent Fundraising Gold Rush Since 'Citizens United' Ruling (Center for Public Integrity)
Interest Group Spending for Midterm Up Fivefold from 2006; Many Sources Secret (The Washington Post)
The Secret Sponsors (The New York Times)