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NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on S. 3369, more commonly called the Disclose Act.
July 13, 2012
By Nan Swift
NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on S. 3369, more commonly called the Disclose Act. Far from increasing electoral transparency, S. 3369 further muddles already unclear election laws and stifles free speech, by requiring onerous disclosure and compliance burdens for those exercising their First Amendment rights.
S. 3369 exacts a heavy toll upon free speech in electoral politics, despite abundant jurisprudence that has affirmed the right of corporations and other interests to fully participate in electoral discourse while protecting their donors from potential harm. At the same time the legislation heaps new regulations on targeted facets of society such as non-profit advocacy groups and trade associations, it carves out special protections for international unions, creating an uneven playing field.
In many ways, S. 3369 could be viewed as a stimulus bill for election lawyers. Groups will need to hire counsel to tackle the new disclosure regulations for potentially far longer periods of time than under current law. These costly hoops to jump through are aimed at discouraging political participation of concerned citizens – including taxpayers – and could have the effect of chilling political speech.
Campaign finance laws already require PACs, Super PACs, and organizations involved in express advocacy to file disclosures and/or include disclaimers in their speech. The Disclose Act goes far beyond this, by targeting a specific group to silence and potentially exposing those who express a political opinion to intimidation from those who disagree. Supporters of the Disclose Act scoff at the notion of anyone threatening another over a donation, but recent events reaching up to the Presidential campaign level suggest otherwise
S. 3369 sets a dangerous precedent that opens the door to more federal control over the American people’s right to free expression. A “NO” vote on S. 3369 is considered the pro-taxpayer position and will be included in our annual Rating of Congress.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700