House Democrats Close to Reinstituting Penalties for Criticizing Congress
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
We alerted you last week to the very dangerous DISCLOSE Act (HR 5175), where liberal House Democrats are trying to gag their political opponents.
Well, there have been some late-breaking developments in the fight to kill this bill, but you’re not going to believe what’s happening. This is what Politico.com reported yesterday:
House Democrats have offered to exempt the National Rifle Association from a sweeping campaign-finance bill, removing a major obstacle in the push to roll back the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
The NRA had objected to some of the strict financial disclosure provisions that Democrats have proposed for corporations and politically active nonprofits and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation.
But if the NRA signs off on the deal, the bill could come to the House floor as early as this week. The NRA said it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed.
An NRA official also noted that the group would not be supporting the bill but would not actively oppose it if the deal with the Democratic leadership holds up.
So if the NRA gets an exemption for itself, it will not oppose the anti-freedom DISCLOSE Act (HR 5175). This legislation is designed to overturn major parts of the recent Supreme Court decision which restored the ability of groups like GOA to freely criticize elected officials during a campaign.
But the NRA would no longer oppose the bill once they’ve won an exemption for themselves. As reported by Politico.com:
The legislation in question is designed to restore more campaign finance rules in the wake of last year’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which removed prohibitions on corporations and unions running TV ads opposing or backing candidates in the run-up to an election.
Democratic leaders fear the Citizens United decision could open the floodgates for corporate money to flow into this year’s midterm elections, which they believe would favor Republican interests.
The legislation, offered by Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, would require special-interest groups to disclose their top donors if they choose to run TV ads or send out mass mailings in the final months of an election.
In addition to benefiting the NRA, this “exemption” amendment will benefit Blue Dog Democrats who will be given a green light to support the Obama-Pelosi backed bill:
Democrats are justifying the NRA exemption, saying the organization has a long history of being involved in the political process, and they say the real goal of the new campaign finance bill is to expose corporations and unions that create ambiguous front groups to run attack ads during campaigns. Unions would not be allowed to use the NRA exemption.
North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler, an NRA backer and conservative Democrat, proved to be pivotal to the NRA deal. Shuler was the first to offer an amendment to exempt the NRA and other nonprofits from the legislation, but that move drew objections from campaign watchdog groups.
“There were a number of concerns that the DISCLOSE Act could hinder or penalize the efforts of certain long-standing, member-driven organizations who have historically acted in good faith,” Shuler said, referring to the NRA. “Most of those concerns are addressed within the manager’s amendment.”
But here’s the rub, the special exemption amendment will ONLY benefit the NRA and no other groups whatsoever. It will leave all other groups who are currently in Obama’s crosshairs dangling in the wind:
The proposal would exempt organizations that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations. Democrats say the new language would apply to only the NRA, since no other organization would qualify under these specific provisions. The NRA, with 4 million members, will not actively oppose the DISCLOSE Act, according to Democratic sources.
The exemption for a huge group like the NRA is sure to outrage smaller special-interest groups [like Gun Owners of America].
We are in a political war, and our opponents are trying to change the rules of the game by gagging those groups that are their political enemies. Some might say that the requirement to disclose our membership is not a gag rule, but it most certainly is. Gun Owners of America will NOT do anything that would jeopardize the privacy of our members!
Gun owners know the dangers of being registered, as it has often proven to be the first step towards gun confiscation — which, by the way, is why it’s lamentable that the management of the NRA is selling out its members for the proverbial bowl of pottage. (Go to http://tinyurl.com/2uw9sm9 to see what a leading Capitol Hill blog has written about this sell-out.)
We’re positive that regular members of the NRA would never want this to happen — where all the other pro-gun organizations (like GOA) that are fighting to protect our rights would be gagged, while special favors are cut for one group in particular.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with NRA and all the other pro-gun groups when they are fighting to defend our Second Amendment freedoms. We all have to stick together if we are going to win these battles.
We’re not sure who is making the decisions over at the NRA headquarters… but this type of thing would have never happened in the past, and we’re positive that the NRA membership would not be happy with it. This cannot stand!
ACTION: Please do everything you can to kill this dangerous DISCLOSE Act legislation (HR 5175). Here’s what you can do:
1. Urge your congressman to oppose HR 5175. You can use the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center to send a pre-written message to your Representative.
2. Call the NRA-ILA at (800) 392-VOTE (8683) and urge them to oppose this legislation and to rate any congressman who votes in favor of HR 5175 as having cast an ANTI-GUN vote. Urge them not to sell out our constitutional freedoms just because they can get an exemption for themselves.
3. Please help Gun Owners of America to continue fighting for your rights. You can Click Here to help us alert as many people as possible to this new threat.
—– Pre-written letter —–
I stand with Gun Owners of America in opposing the DISCLOSE Act (HR 5175).
There are reports that a deal may be cut to exempt one large organization from the terms of the DISCLOSE Act. This smacks of the money-for-votes fiasco which helped grease the skids for passage of ObamaCare and which has already lowered Congress’ reputation to unprecedented depths.
On the Senate side, Senator Mitch McConnell blasted this deal, which is aimed at carving out special exemptions for the NRA leadership in exchange for their promise to sit on their hands and not oppose the DISCLOSE Act. “If there is one thing Americans loathe about Washington, it’s the backroom dealing to win the vote of organizations with power and influence at the expense of everyone else,” McConnell said.
“Just as it wasn’t the Democrats’ money to offer in the health care debate, free speech isn’t theirs to ration out to those willing to play ball — it’s a right guaranteed by our First Amendment to all Americans.”
I agree wholeheartedly. Please do NOT vote in favor of this legislation, as it will have a chilling effect upon our free speech rights by forcing the organizations we associate with to disclose their membership lists.
How ironic that a Congress and President who treat transparency with contempt should now be trying to force legal organizations to disclose the names of their law-abiding members. The hypocrisy is blatant, to say the least.
Vote no on HR 5175.