Influence Peddlers Trying To Kill Campaign Disclosure Bill
Anybody remember the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC allowing unlimited expenditures by various interest groups in elections? If you do, you may also remember the promise by the Obama administration and congressional leadership to substitute a draconian disclosure law for such electioneering. The legislation was designed to require disclosure of major donors for media and internet advertising as well as for robo-calls. It requires organizational bigwigs to announce their support of ads and report expenditures to stockholders and members. It would also ban government contractors and foreign owned companies from electioneering.
That legislation was winding its way through Congress in hopes of passage in time for the mid-terms when the usual suspects crawled out of the woodwork and demanded a halt to the proceedings. Was it greedy corporations unleashing their lobbyists on unsuspecting politicians? No. The NRA and the AFL-CIO, in a strange bedfellows melodrama, are the ones lobbing the political grenades.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer immediately capitulated, acknowledging that the groups raised “a number of legitimate concerns.” He did not respond to speculation that the NRA might be specifically exempted from the bill.
Until now, opposition had been led by the US Chamber of Commerce, with little effect. The addition of groups like the NRA and organized labor, however, is pushing legislators into re-write mode. The NRA called the disclosure requirements overly burdensome for an organization with millions of small donor members, and raised concerns about having to reveal internal discussions.
The AFL-CIO tipped its hand in an expression of candor rarely seen in Washington, admitting that it believed the rules were fine for corporations, but that unions should be held to a lower standard. Said their spokeswoman, “the final bill should treat corporations different than democratic organizations such as unions. We believe the legislation should counter the excessive and disproportionate influence by big business…”. It is being reported that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has already met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to voice the union’s concerns.
The betting line now? The bill heads back for a rewrite and may or may not make it out in time for this year’s election cycle.
[Author's Note: the photo is of Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO]
Cross posted at Elijah’s Sweete Spot.