Will the DISCLOSE Act Be Signed Into Law This Year?
The following opinion piece appeared on The Hill's Congress Blog on June 17, 2010 in response to The Big Question: Will the DISCLOSE Act Be Signed Into Law This Year? Should It Be?
The DISCLOSE Act most certainly should be signed into law this year and there are encouraging signs that it will be.
Despite the recent hubbub made by special interests from across the political spectrum over the “NRA fix”, the bill remains a strong and necessary piece of legislation that will require accurate and timely disclosure of the big money being spent to influence elections.
There’s no denying that the optics of the NRA fix are bad: legislation moving through the House is amended to provide an exemption for a large and powerful interest group, which like it or not, has the power in the House to bring the bill down. The sausage factory is churning away.
But in the case of the DISCLOSE Act, it is important to look beyond the optics into the merits of the legislation and the impact of the exemption. The core provisions of the bill – ensuring that money laundered through third party groups is disclosed, closing the gap created by the Citizens United decision in the ban on foreign nationals from influencing U.S, elections, strengthening current rules (which are notoriously weak) governing coordination of activities with candidates and parties and enhancing disclosure of political expenditures made by corporations, unions, 527 organizations, and 501c groups – are too important to be deep-sixed at this point in the process.
Even with the revised NRA fix, large, nationwide grassroots organizations with more than 500,000 members will have to continue to disclose their independent expenditures and to abide by the “stand by your ad” provisions in the bill. The public will recognize these large organizations’ “brands” and know who is behind the ads and the motivations behind them.