Blog Post

House Passes DISCLOSE Act

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist With backroom tactics similar to those used to force health care reform through Congress, the U.S. House passed the highly partisan DISCLOSE Act designed to muzzle grassroots political voices such as the Tea Party in time for the November election. is reporting that the House voted 219-206 yesterday to pass the "Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act” (DISCLOSE).  The Act will encumber pro-life, pro-family and other grassroots organizations with a myriad of new rules that will effectively stifle their free speech and free participation in the political process. Even the liberal ACLU has condemned the Act and its draconian regulations aimed at particular groups while excluding those who traditionally vote for the Democratic Party, such as Labor Unions. Among its many provisions, the Act will force all groups subject to the law’s requirements - including most 501(c)4, 501(c)5, 501(c)6, and 527 groups – to list all donors of $600 or more with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Groups must also post a hyperlink on their website to the FEC, where a list of the names of their donors can be accessed. The Act also requires that every time one of these organizations runs a campaign ad, its CEO must appear in the ad and twice state his name and the organization’s name. In addition, the most “significant” donor to the organization must list his name, rank, and organization three times in the ad. Forcing so many disclaimers during a single ad will result in devouring valuable air time that could have been used to inform the public of a candidate’s record. However, as LifeSite points out, the DISCLOSE Act exempts large 501(c)4 groups – like the 4 million strong NRA and 750,000 member Sierra Club – from having to report their donors if they have at least 500,000 members, over 10 years of existence, chapters in all 50 states, and receive no more than 15% of total contributions from corporations. Unions also have significant exemptions because most union dues are under $600 dollars, and so do not have to be reported. Union to union money transfers also do not have to be disclosed. Even more frustrating is how liberal members of the House rushed the bill through to a floor vote after a closed door meeting of the House Rules Committee without allowing lawmakers any time to read the final version of the bill. Instead, House leaders invoked the “Martial Law Rule” which allowed them to dispense with rules requiring at least one day between a bill’s unveiling and a vote. “Critics on both the left and the right have denounced the tactic, saying it empowers a party’s leadership to act in an authoritarian manner and endangers democratic self-government by forcing members to vote blindly on measures demanded by their leaders,” LifeSite reports. During the one-hour debate on the bill, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) expressed outrage that so little time was given the House to debate a matter impacting Americans’ First Amendment rights. “We have spent 40 hours in this Congress naming post offices. Can’t we spend a little time protecting the Constitution of the United States?” Lungren asked. “We’re talking about political speech: the essence of the First Amendment.” The bill now moves to the Senate. Should it pass, it will be signed into law by President Barack Obama and take effect within 30 days, just in time to influence the next election. “This is a blatant attack on our organizations, members, and donors,” said Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee. “National Right to Life will do everything possible to keep this bill from coming out of the Senate.” Johnson said the Senate must be stopped from passing its version (S 3295) of the DISCLOSE Act. “I think we have to take it very seriously. There are already 50 cosponsors of the bill in the Senate. But as you know, the Senate has different rules, and we will certainly do our best to persuade any Senator who will listen that this bill is unconstitutional, unprincipled, and nakedly partisan.” Visit the official website of the U.S. Senate to contact your representative. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®