House Poised to Vote


U.S. House Poised to Vote on Disclosure Bill

Peter Hardin

June 17th, 2010

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote Friday on a controversial bill drafted by Democratic leaders to soften the impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

Democrats will “force” a floor vote Friday despite intense opposition by Republicans and business groups, according to a Politico article. In addition, a proposed exemption in the disclosure bill for the National Rifle Association (see Gavel Grab post) has irked some liberal-leaning groups to the point they have voiced opposition.

A Washington Post blog reported on a letter in which the Alliance for Justice, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and several dozen other groups criticized the exemption.

They wrote, “It is inappropriate and inequitable to create a two-tiered system of campaign finance laws and First Amendment protections, one for the most powerful and influential and another for everyone else.” The letter added, “There is no legitimate justification for privileging the speech of one entity over another, or of reducing the burdens of compliance for the biggest organization yet retaining them for the smallest.”

A differing view came from Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center. She wrote in Roll Call that the exemption for the NRA “is quite narrow” and “according to the House leadership’s vote count, the fix was needed to ensure passage in the House.” The Campaign is a partner of Justice at Stake.

A New York Times editorial said “the House still should approve the measure, which would impose disclosure mandates on the shadowy propaganda drives that will likely flood the hustings from deep-pocketed corporate, labor and special-interest groups.”

The bill would require greater disclosure of information about donors and about political activity by most unions, corporations and nonprofit groups. It would require corporations to identify themselves in political ads they pay for and to disclose their expenditures to shareholders and the public.

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