Case in point: House Democrats on Monday reached a compromise that would exempt the National Rifle Association and various organizations from the proposed disclosure requirements.
In June of 2008, the Politico reported that the National Rifle Association planned to spend approximately $40 million on the 2008 campaign, with $15 million of that money devoted to delineate Barack Obama as a threat to the Second Amendment rights.
"Since 2000," the Political wrote, "Democrats have made a conscious decision to avoid alienating gun owners and Second Amendment enthusiasts, as many in the party believe a NRA-stoked backlash cost Al Gore his home state of Tennessee , as well as West Virginia and Arkansas, in the 2000 presidential election."
Hence, the Politico contended, Obama decided not to raise the gun issue on the campaign stump except, when asked, to say that he respects Second Amendment rights.
And so it seems Democrats in Congress do not want to alienate the NRA, hence the latest backroom deal.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday offered up some strong words to express his disgust with the NRA exemption:
"Taxpayers are still fuming over a health care process where their money was thrown around like a high roller in a hotel lobby to win last-minute votes," he said. "and now the same backroom dealing is being repeated with their freedom of speech."
The question at hand is not whether the proposed legislation is constitutional or not - for as I will soon explain, this piece of legislation is nothing more than partisan maneuvering, underhanded intimidation and most likely unconstitutional - the question at hand is whether the American people can tolerate anymore of this corruption: these shady backroom deals and preferred treatment that have been offered to various organizations.
Nevertheless, it is important to note the extent of injustice that is contained within the proposed legislation.
Let me cite a letter, written by Americans for Tax Reform and about fifty other organizations, and recently sent to the United States House of Representatives. The aforementioned letter pretty much sums up all that is wrong and abhorrent about this bill:
Dear Member of the United States House of Representatives,I don't think I need to add any additional commentary to the aforementioned letter. The chicanery, craftiness and underhandedness of the both the White House and Congressional Democrats knows no bounds. Their attempt to impose totalitarian laws upon the American people is nefarious, despicable and odious - at best!
We write on behalf of the millions of taxpayers and concerned citizens represented by our respective organizations to urge Congress to reject H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, an egregious attempt by the majority to stifle political speech.
H.R. 5175 is being sold to the public as a “response” to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. However, this bill uses the ruling as an excuse to expand the scope of campaign finance regulations to strangle free speech.
This bill runs afoul of this precedent in two ways: by forcing the top donors of a group, who are not necessarily the specific donors to an ad, to appear in a political communication and by forcing groups to disclose members of their organization who are not necessarily funding communications. This shifts the regulatory paradigm away from those who are actually funding advertisements and targets, for the first time, individual membership in a group. This inclusive treatment of organizational funding reveals that the intent of this legislation is not true disclosure – it is the intimidation of speech.
The bill also marks a stark departure from the traditional treatment of corporations and unions by applying punitive measures to associations in the corporate form, but not to labor unions. Historically, these entities have been treated interchangeably in campaign finance law. The attempt now to separate these associations amounts to nothing more than partisan maneuvering for political gain and sparks constitutional concerns under the Equal Protection clause.
Moreover, in its recent ruling in Citizens United, the Supreme Court held that the identity of the speaker cannot provide justification for the inhibition of its speech. By allowing union speech while punishing the speech of similar associations, H.R. 5175 does exactly this.
The Committee on House Administration’s rejection of amendments that would have subjected unions to the same treatment as corporations under this bill illustrates the intention of this act – to exclude certain groups from the political dialogue...