The DISCLOSE Act is the Democrats big legislative “fix” to pushback against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that eliminated a number of campaign finance restrictions on first amendment grounds. It just passed the House this afternoon — even with 36 Democrats voting against it.
House Republican Leader John Boehner’s already declaring that the legislation will “Shred Our Constitution for Raw, Ugly, Partisan Gain.” Normally, I’d automatically dissmiss such a press release as hyperbole, but this time I’m not so sure. For one thing, the DISCLOSE Act does this:
A Democratic amendment tucked into campaign finance legislation Wednesday night also drew fire from Republicans and their allies, who contend it gives special treatment to Democrat-allied labor unions. The language in question would exempt from disclosure requirements transfers of cash from dues-funded groups to their affiliates to pay for certain election ads. It was inserted into the bill by Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Administration Committee and a big union backer.
This sleazy bill, in a shameless bargain, already exempted the NRA:
Politico and others are reporting that the NRA has reached a deal to withdraw its opposition to the bill in exchange for an exemption for the NRA from its disclosure provisions. The exemption would apply to “organizations which have qualified as having tax exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code for each of the 10 years prior to making a campaign-related disbursement, that had 1 million or more dues-paying members in the prior calendar year, that had members in each of the 50 states, that received no more than 15 percent of their total funding from corporations or labor organizations, and that do not use any corporate or union money to pay for their campaign-related expenditures.”
The NRA loophole was expanded to include the Sierra Club, Humane Society and AARP. Smaller, grassroots organizations will get no such relief:
Under the bill, all groups subject to the law’s requirements would have to list all donors of $600 or more with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Groups must also post a hyperlink on their website to the FEC, where a list of the names of their donors can be accessed.
Furthermore, every time an organization runs a campaign ad, its CEO must appear in the ad and twice state his name and the organization’s name. The top five funders of the organization behind the ad – even if they had nothing to do with the ad’s funding – must also have their names listed in the ad.
In addition, the most “significant” donor to the organization must list his name, rank, and organization three times in the ad. Critics of the bill say that the disclaimers effectively consume valuable air time bought by these groups that would otherwise be used to inform voters about a candidate’s record.
The bill also effectively silences these organizations. So the influential, big money political donors get a free ride and the little guy gets a sock in his mouth.
Fortunately there is some hope for a return to sanity in the Senate:
Senator Mitch McConnell has signalled that Republicans would very strongly oppose the measure. While no Senate Democrats have come out opposing it, 10 of their number refused to co-sponsor the legislation (S 3295), sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), meaning some might join a GOP filibuster.
The Democrats are going all in to try and hold on to their majority in Congress. These ridiculous, over-burdensome, unconstitutional restrictions on free speech are a means to an end and to the Democrats the ends always justify the means. And, not to be outdone in the whatever-it-takes-to-win department, Obama has a plan of his own, guaranteed to bring in the votes:
The Obama administration has been holding behind-the-scenes talks to determine whether the Department of Homeland Security can unilaterally grant legal status on a mass basis to illegal immigrants, a former Bush administration official who spoke with at least three people involved in those talks told FoxNews.com.
The issue was raised publicly by eight Republican senators who wrote to the White House on Monday to complain that they had heard the administration was readying a "Plan B" in case a comprehensive immigration reform bill cannot win enough support to clear Congress.
The White House would not confirm or deny the claim. But the former Bush official said the discussions are real.
"The administration at the very minimum is studying legal ways to legalize people without having to go through any congressional debate about it," the source said, calling the senators' claim credible. "Whether somebody pulls the trigger on that, that's another issue."
I don't think Obama would hesitate pulling the trigger. The Democrats need the votes and he needs the Democrats. As an added bonus, he would no doubt take great pleasure in one-upping Governor Brewer by granting legal status to thousands of illegals in Arizona.