Senate Republicans recently put an end to the federal DISCLOSE Act when it failed to earn the 60 votes needed to move the measure forward.
DISCLOSE, which stands for "Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections," would have required independent groups to disclose names of contributors who give more than $10,000 to independent groups for use in political campaigns.
The measure was an attempt by Senate Democrats, led by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision, the court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman was one of the 44 Senators who voted against allowing the motion to proceed. The first-term senator, believed to be a favorite for the spot as Mitt Romney's running mate in the upcoming presidential election, has not yet released a statement explaining his no vote, according to his office.
Portman's Democratic counterpart, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, however, has taken to the Internet to voice his displeasure with the vote. A petition to overturn the Citizens United decision is posted on his campaign website.
Brown, one of 40 co-signers of the bill, will continue to fight for the measure, according to his campaign managers.
On the web
See the petition at www.sherrodbrown.com.
See the summary and status of S.3369 at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SN3369:
"Sherrod believes that it is important to know who is trying to influence elections," said Justin Barasky, communication director for Brown's campaign. "It is a lot harder to lie when everyone knows who's lying."
Barasky said so far $10.6 million has been spent on negative attacks toward Brown coming from opponent and current Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and several out-of-state groups.
"There has been more money spent to attack Sherrod than any in other campaign," said Barasky. "No one knows where (the money) is coming from."
The Mandel campaign, citing an article on OhioWatchDog.org, is quick to point out that Brown's campaign has also accepted outside money, including from unions and environmental groups.
"Sherrod Brown's allies clearly understand the electoral danger that he faces and they have stepped forward with a deep-pocketed expenditure on his behalf," said Travis Considine, communications director for the Mandel campaign.
The plan is for the petition to remain up for the immediate future on Brown's campaign website.
"Sherrod is not going to stop fighting for transparency ... he's going to continue to put pressure on those who are blocking (the measure)," Barasky said.
Congressman and Marietta resident Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who is seeking re-election against Democratic candidate Charlie Wilson, said that he can't stand behind a measure that seeks to block First Amendment rights.
"I will never support attempts to end free speech rights of some groups of people while protecting the free speech rights of other," Johnson said in a statement. "That's un-American and unfair."
Molly Varner, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Party, said she feels transparency is important, regardless of which side of the aisle one sits.
"(The blocking of the DISCLOSE Act) concerns me so much ... it's a whole different kind of politics when people outside of Ohio are trying to influence votes. What benefit is it to them?" she said. "Ideally, to overturn Citizens United, to publish lists of out-of-state donors, would be important for both Democrats and Republicans."
However, others feel the issue of who is behind the funding of campaign ads is ultimately not weighing on the minds of the average voter and citizen.
"This is not even in the top 10," said Khadine Ritter, a Marietta attorney and campaign chair for the Washington County GOP. "Voters are concerned about jobs, the economy, Obamacare. Those would be the top three."
Both Ritter and Varner say they feel there is a time and place for "mud-slinging" in campaign ads.
"I don't like it but I know it works," said Varner.
"I have no problem with negative campaigning," said Ritter. "As long as it's the truth, shout it from the mountaintop."