Veteran Republican breaks with GOP leaders to back DISCLOSE Act

Nine-term Congressman Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican, is again showing off his independent streak, and in a good cause.

Jones on Tuesday became the first House Republican to break with GOP leaders and join a movement to force action on the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would give voters a better idea of just who is trying to buy our elections. The North Carolinian is the 164th House member to sign a discharge petition to bring the bill directly to the floor for action.

The petition needs 218 signatures to trigger a floor debate and a formal vote to bypass the House Administration and Judiciary committees; DISCLOSE supporters hope to get around the two committees, which are controlled by GOP leaders opposed to the bill.

The DISCLOSE Act would close campaign finance loopholes that are allowing tax-exempt “Super PACs” to pump millions of dollars into the 2012 elections without disclosing the corporations, unions, associations and individuals providing the money.

A somewhat different version of the DISCLOSE Act was derailed in the Senate earlier this month by a GOP-led filibuster.

Jones has a history of going his own way. Two years ago, he bucked Republican leaders to co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act, a plan to create a mechanism for public financing of House and Senate campaigns. He also was among the first in his party to break with the Bush administration and call for an end to the war in Iraq.

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