House Democrats held a shotgun wedding between campaign finance “reformers” and the National Rifle Association today in announcing a carve out for the powerful gun lobby in a bill responding to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.
The “Shotgun Sellout” exempts large organizations from the most burdensome regulations of the DISCLOSE Act, “Democratic Incumbents Seek to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections,” while pistol whipping genuine grassroots groups.
“The Democratic majority has decided that established, powerful interest groups should be exempted from the proposed draconian regulations, while small advocacy groups should have their voices silenced by the DISCLOSE Act,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Exempting the National Rifle Association from these regulations while local groups such as the Oregon Firearms Federation would face stifling regulations if they choose to exercise their First Amendment rights simply cannot be considered ‘reform.'”
“This sort of special carve out for an established interest group is just the kind of insider manipulation that gives the public the sense that Congress is unresponsive to the concerns of ordinary Americans,” said Allison Hayward, CCP’s Vice President of Policy. “How can it be that invasive and onerous disclosure requirements are proper when applied to small, regional interest groups but not large, wealthy national groups?”
“This exception could serve to entrench political organization, discourage local participation in civic groups, and undermine the civic involvement that Alexis de Tocqueville identified as uniquely American and one of America’s great strengths,” she added.
According to Capitol Hill sources, the Rules Committee will likely hold a Wednesday hearing to advance the DISCLOSE Act to the House floor by the end of the week.
Draft amendment affecting the NRA as part of a “Manager’s Amendment” for consideration this week in the House Rules Committee:
Exempt section 501(c)(4) organizations” are also exempt from new reporting requirements. These are 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 Center for Competitive Politics has released a two-page overview and a comprehensive, 19-page analysis of the provisions of the DISCLOSE Act. CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith will speak at policy briefing on the DISCLOSE Act hosted by the Cato Institute Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center.
The Center for Competitive Politics is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to protecting First Amendment political rights. CCP seeks to deregulate the political marketplace of ideas through research, litigation and advocacy.