(Reuters) - Democrats plan to introduce legislation this week to counter a Supreme Court ruling that opened the gate to unlimited spending by corporations and unions in political campaigns.
The measure would seek to stem what President Barack Obama complained was the court giving special interests excessive power in U.S. elections.
According to a summary of the legislation, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the measure would:
* Make the leaders of corporations, unions and other groups take responsibility for their campaign ads. They would have to say they approved the ad, just as candidates have to do now.
* Require contributors to disclose within 24 hours to the Federal Election Commission their campaign-related activity as well as transfers to other groups of any money that could be used in an election.
* Tighten restrictions on foreign influence in U.S. elections. Corporations that have a foreign entity controlling 20 percent of their voting shares — or foreign nationals comprising a majority of their board of directors — would be barred from spending in U.S. elections. So would those that have a foreign national directing the company.
* Mandate greater disclosure and allow shareholders, union workers and members of other organizations to know where the money goes; would also require these groups to make their political spending public on their websites.
* “Due to the appearance of corruption and possible misuse of taxpayer funds, government contractors with a contract worth more than $50,000 will not be allowed to spend money on elections,” according to the summary of the legislation. Similarly, corporations that have not paid back federal bailout money would not be allowed to spend money on elections, either.
* Tighten existing campaign finance rules to ban coordinated activity on ads between candidates and outside groups.
Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Xavier Briand