Some controversy has developed after news that the DISCLOSE Act has been modified to exempt certain large 501(c)(4) organizations. Reportedly, organizations that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations would be exempt from the disclosure requirements.
Now the Sierra Club and U.S. PIRG said they would not support the measure with the new language. The Hill reports, "House Democrats are facing a backlash from some liberal and government reform advocacy groups over an exemption for the National Rifle Association [NRA] that was added to a campaign finance bill." Lisa Gilbert from U.S. PIRG, "emphasized that the group supports the goals of the legislation but that the carve-out for the NRA was simply too big a compromise."
She said, "It's a sea change, and we hope that we'll be able to remove this exemption and support the bill." Understandably, an amendment that makes such concessions will cause problems for a bill that is meant to reduce the influence of special interests. The public should know who is spending to influence an election, and this latest development seems to counter the goal of the bill.
The Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and Common Cause issued a statement urging House members to pass the bill. "We strongly urge you to vote for H.R. 5175 and the Manager's Amendment that accompanies the legislation, and to oppose any amendments to the bill that would weaken, undermine or gut the legislation."
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, said the new managers amendment to the DISCLOSE Act would be "a narrow exemption from the donor disclosure provisions of the bill for large and long established c4 organizations that receive only a small percentage of their funds from corporations and labor unions and that do not use any corporate or labor union money to pay for their campaign-related expenditures. The exemption, which will benefit the NRA and perhaps a few other groups, was considered necessary by House members in order to pass the bill."
The NRA is promising that as long as they are exempt from disclosure rules, "the NRA will not be involved in final consideration of the House bill." Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers also expressed opposition and warned that votes on the bill may be considered for the group's annual legislative report card.
Depending on new developments or if more lawmakers come out in opposition to the bill, it may still come up for a floor vote soon.