Today the Senate will vote on the DISCLOSE act which is the latest Democrat assault on freedom of speech. The opening salvo was the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 — it was amended in 1975, and that amendment created the FEC. Then in 2002 we were introduced to the catastrophic Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 better known as McCain-Feingold which saw a huge setback in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court case.
Citizens United paved the way for what are known as SuperPACs which, according to Democrats, are the single greatest threat to American democracy (excluding their own SuperPACs of course) and the worst decision since Dred Scott.
Cutting through the hyperbole it’s not difficult to figure out that the primary complaint from Democrats is that Republicans can now spend endless amounts of money on campaigns which was a luxury for which the Democrats have enjoyed for many years through the kindness of labor unions ($4.4 Billion in kindness in the last 6 years).
Not content to allow the free market of ideas to battle on equal footing, the Democrats are again working towards ending the right of non-union organizations to freely support their chosen candidates and issues.
Consider this chilling quote from Chuck Schumer (D.,N.Y.) at a press conference in February of 2010 about how DISCLOSE was intended to work:
These requirements won’t ban political activity, but the level of transparency will, at the very least, make corporations realize everything they do in the nature of political advocacy will be public. That will make them think twice before spending unlimited sums to influence elections. The deterrent effect should not be underestimated(emphasis mine)
Try to soak in what Senator Schumer is saying here. He believes that there should be a way to deter speech and he’s proposing the DISCLOSE bill for that purpose. Luckily DISCLOSE was filibustered which of course was not a deterrent for Schumer and now a cloture vote is scheduled for today.
As Bradley Smith at National Review noted:
The bill’s real aim is to force trade associations and nonprofits to publicly name their donors. Such lists might be used by competing groups to poach members, or, more ominously, by government officials to threaten or retaliate against political opponents, or by interest groups to gin up boycotts and threats against the individual and corporate members of the groups.
Think there’s no way that could happen? Here’s another scary quote, this time from Obama’s political guru, David Axelrod discussing the Citizens United victory:
I hope that one of the things we can do, when we win this election, is use whatever tools are available, up to and including a Constitutional amendment, to turn this back.
Then there’s this quote from the anonymous warning I posted a few weeks ago:
Shortly before the Obama campaign asked the FEC to investigate Crossroads GPS, Bloomberg reported that an IRS decision “revoking the tax-exempt status of a small political nonprofit organization may foreshadow an investigation into groups such as Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA that spend millions on the 2012 U.S. presidential election.” So Obama’s IRS established a bit of administrative precedent in the least politically painful way possible (dinging inconsequential allies by having the IRS make an administrative decision about their legal status), then a story said that this “foreshadow[ed] an investigation into Crossroads GPS….and then, almost as if it was a coordinated plan, Obama’s campaign launched the complaint about Crossroads GPS.
So we have Chuck Schumer talking about “deterrents”, David Axelrod spelling out the administration’s intent to “turn back” the SCOTUS ruling regarding the free speech in the Citizens United v. FEC, and the Obama administration appearing to work in concert with the Internal Revenue Service to scare opponents into submission. And now we have the DISCLOSE act who’s sole purpose is to enshrine union spending while squashing SuperPACs.
How will they accomplish this? Well the Democrats were kind enough to put provisions in the DISCLOSE act that will keep the unions safe and warm.
A provision called “stand by your ad” was dropped from the bill which would have required endorsements at the end of ads similar to the ones that candidates are required to provide now. In other words, “Yo, dis is Jimmy Hoffa, and I approve of this friggin’ ad” may have been included in a union sponsored ad. Being the strong silent types, the unions put pressure on the Democrats to remove the provision and in today’s vote it will be absent.
This has the effect of removing the only real disclosure unions would’ve been providing while creating new disclosures for SuperPACs and 501(c). Essentially, unions would continue to remain in the shadows piling unlimited money into campaigns without the same expectations of transparency since their “donors” are simply dues paid be workers.
This is one of those complicated issues that tends to make people throw their hands up in disgust and want to give up on the whole system. But we can’t do that. We can defeat this infringement on freedom of speech and make it that much more difficult for the administration to roll back the first amendment.
For over forty years, politicians in Washington have been trying to protect themselves from Election Day losses through campaign finance reform. We’ve got the votes to stop this but as always, keeping the pressure on is important.
Here’s a few people I think deserve a phone call just to make sure they’re still playing for the right team on Constitutionally protected speech.
Sen. John McCain – (202) 224-2235
Sen. Olympia Snowe – (202) 224-5344
Sen. Susan Collins – (202) 224-2523
Sen. Scott Brown – (202) 224-4543
Sen. Dick Lugar – (202) 224-4814
For a better understanding of the issue make sure to watch this interview on the Mark Levin Show with Sen. Mitch McConnell who’s been solid on this issue.