UPDATE 1-Obama chides Republicans on corporate campaign cash

* Obama says Republicans have something to hide

* Senior Republican says Obama trying to “rig” elections

(adds background on court decision, Social Security)

By Jeff Mason

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass., Aug 21 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack
Obama revved up his effort on Saturday to curb corporate
influence on U.S. political campaigns, chiding Republicans for
keeping the public “in the dark” by opposing a reform bill.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said
Americans are seeing the ramifications of a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling that allowed companies and other groups to spend
unlimited amounts of money on political advertising.

Democrats support a bill that would blunt the impact of the
court’s January ruling. Republicans have blocked it.

“As the political season heats up, Americans are already
being inundated with the usual phone calls, mailings, and TV
ads from campaigns all across the country,” said Obama, who is
vacationing on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.

“But this summer, they’re also seeing a flood of attack ads
run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t
know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for
them.”

The new legislation would change that, he said. It includes
measures to require corporations to disclose their financial
roles in political TV campaigns, including those that favor or
oppose specific candidates.

The court ruled 5-4 that long-standing campaign finance
limits violated the free speech rights of corporations.

Republicans are trying to regain control of the House of
Representatives and Senate in U.S. congressional elections in
November.

“The president says this bill is about transparency. It’s
transparent alright. It’s a transparent effort to rig the fall
elections,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a
statement.

“Americans want us to focus on jobs, but by focusing on an
election bill, Democrats are sending a clear message to the
American people that their jobs aren’t as important as the jobs
of embattled Democrat politicians,” McConnell said.

TARGETING VOTERS

Obama has focused his radio address in recent weeks on
issues he hopes will resonate with voters, such as the
long-term prospects for the Social Security retirement program
and the solvency of Medicare, the government-administered
program that finances healthcare for older Americans.

Obama hopes his position on the campaign finance issue will
help Democrats in November, and he highlighted potential groups
whose power to influence U.S. campaigns could raise the ire of
voters.

“You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.
You don’t know if it’s BP (BP.L: ) (BP.N: ). You don’t know if it’s
a big insurance company or a Wall Street bank,” he said.

The business community, which benefits from the court’s
ruling, is traditionally pro-Republican.

Obama chided Republicans for preventing the bill from
coming up for a vote.

“This can only mean that the leaders of the other party
want to keep the public in the dark,” he said. “They don’t want
you to know which interests are paying for the ads. The only
people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with
something to hide.”

(Editing by Eric Beech)

UPDATE 1-Obama chides Republicans on corporate campaign cash