DISCLOSE Act Exemption: Only Big, Powerful Lobbies Need Apply
The Center for Competitive Politics reports that House Democrats are trying to mollify opponents of the DISCLOSE Act, which would impose onerous, lopsided burdens and restrictions on independent political speech, with the following amendment:
"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.
Guess which widely feared Washington lobby meets those criteria:
"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?"