Well it finally looks like the way is clear for the controversial DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175) to be brought to the House floor.
On Monday, Democratic leaders cleared the bill’s way by cutting a deal with the NRA, exempting the massive gun-rights organization from the Act’s requirements. Democrats in moderate districts were wary of crossing the NRA by trying to limit its campaign ads.
You can read more about the NRA deal here.
Democratic leaders now believe they can ram the bill, H.R. 5175, through the House without any opposition to stop it.
This bill is so loosely crafted that it’s an absolute train wreck that not only threatens free speech in America, but could indirectly impact the current free exercise of speech bloggers enjoy. See my May 20 post on this subject. The bill was originally written to counter the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Citizens United V FEC. The court ruled that provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law restricted corporations and nonprofit groups from running political advertising were unconstitutional. This was in my opinion a huge win for free speech. Not so much for the Democrats who face a tough political landscape this November. So what do they do instead of addressing our serious economic concerns, our skyrocketing debt, our out-of-control spending, our falling dollar; they take the time to craft a bill that will place serious limitations on free speech rights guaranteed by our Constitution’s 1st amendment before an election cycle…sweet!
Americans for Tax Reform and over 50 other groups, including The American Conservative Union, CatholicVote.org, the Center for Competitive Politics, and Citizens Against Government Waste, have sent a letter to Congress calling the bill “an unequivocal ban on free speech, masquerading as an exercise in accountability.”
Below is a list of the new rules if the DISCLOSE Act becomes law.
It would expand the window for “electioneering communications,” which was 30 to 60 days under McCain-Feingold, to 90 days before a primary or caucus. During that period, corporations and nonprofits would face stringent procedures for any corporate advertising. The electioneering window, once opened, would continue through to the general election. So because presidential primaries fall well before the election, the restrictions could conceivably be in place for over a year.
The bill requires a mountain of paperwork, because companies must submit a list to the FEC of all donors who contributed more than $600. “In the 1950s, the NAACP went to court to say it should not have to disclose its membership list,” Heritage Foundation legal scholar Hans Von Spakovsky says. He contends the provision to disclose members’ names poses constitutional problems “because it interferes with their right to associate.” It prohibits any company that received government contracts, or that received TARP bailouts, from spending any money on election advertising.
In a precedent-setting exemption, the Disclose Act for the first time would restrict the activities of nonprofits and companies, but not unions in some cases. Opponents point out that unions recently spent over $10 million in an unsuccessful bid to defeat Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary. “This is the empower-labor-unions-over-everybody-else act,” says Norquist. “It’s making it illegal for Americans to participate in politics.”
It bans any advertising from foreign companies, including domestic companies that have 20 percent or more foreign control.
The names of all donors who give $1,000 or more to an organization must be disclosed to the FEC, if the organization spends more than $10,000 on political advertising. Labor unions are included in this provision.
It requires CEOs to appear on camera stating they “approve this message.” Those familiar with how political fund-raising work say this alone would scare away political speech by the vast majority of companies and associations. Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice, one of the groups that signed the anti-Disclose Act letter, tells Newsmax: “I see this as a threat especially to conservative nonprofits, but really to nonprofits in general, because that’s ultimately where the corporate spending that is being attacked here is coming from. Donors very often ask about anonymity. That’s important to them. I could see the groups losing a lot of donations. It’s meant to have a chilling effect, and it will have a chilling effect. I think it’s going to have a horrible effect on nonprofits groups….”
The top donor to the organization, who might not have donated any money for that particular ad, would be required to appear in the commercial to provide the public with information on those funding the commercial. Also, a TV ad would have to list the top five funders to the organization, and radio ads would have to disclose the top two funders. Disclose Act opponents point out the additional time required for the burdensome disclosures would make the ads prohibitively expensive.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What part of this does Congress not understand?
Liberty forever, freedom for all!
Original Post & Image H/T: The Current