Skip to comments.Letter to Congressional Leaders on the DISCLOSE Act (From the NRA's chief lobbyist, Chris Cox)
Posted on 05/23/2012 4:46:47 PM PDT by neverdem
May 22, 2012
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
S-221 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
S-230 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senators Reid and McConnell,
I am writing to express the National Rifle Association's strong opposition to S. 2219, the DISCLOSE Act.
In its landmark Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on certain political speech by nonprofit membership associations, including the National Rifle Association, in an effort to mischaracterize that ruling as something other than a vindication of the free speech and associational rights of millions of American citizens, some have repeatedly attempted to effectively reverse or significantly limit the scope of Citizens United. The latest attempt in this regard is S. 2219.
The NRA has been around since 1871. Our members contribute for the purpose of speaking during elections and participating in the political process. We will not risk our Association or our members being silenced at election time, as S. 2219 would do, while the national news media, politicians and others are allowed to attack us at will. The NRA is a bipartisan, single-issue organization made up of millions of individual members dedicated to the protection of the Second Amendment. The NRA stands absolutely obligated to our members to ensure maximum access to the First Amendment, in order to protect and preserve the freedom of the Second Amendment.
Among the many problems with the DISCLOSE Act are its unconstitutional disclaimer and disclosure provisions. These provisions require organizations to turn membership and donor lists over to the government and to disclose top donors on political advertisements. Under the First Amendment however, as recognized in a long line of Supreme Court cases, citizens have the right to speak and associate privately and anonymously.
Tel: (703) 267-1140 www.nraila.org Fax:(703) 267-3973
DISCLOSE Act Letter to Senators Reid and McConnell, page two
These advertisement disclaimer requirements either sharply reduce the time available for speech or greatly increase the cost of speaking. S. 2219 requires a host of new disclaimers on television and radio ads, including CEO (or top officer) disclosures and "significant-funder" or "top-five funder" disclosures. The required disclaimers are so numerous that they will potentially consume up to one-half of a thirty-second spota forced speech regime that infringes on First Amendment rights.
Further, the DISCLOSE Act creates byzantine administrative burdens that will suffocate individual citizen associations. The Court in Citizens United was clear: "As additional rules are created for regulating political speech, any speech arguably within their reach is chilled." This bill attacks nearly all of an association's political speech by creating an arbitrary patchwork of unprecedented tracking and disclosure requirements. Nonprofit associations would have to track the political priorities of each of its individual members. The cost of complying with these requirements will be immense; for many associations they may prohibit speaking altogether. That violates both the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment.
In addition, S. 2219 would give the FEC the power to require the NRA to reveal private, internal discussions with its millions of members about political communications. This unnecessary and burdensome requirement would leave it to government officials to make a determination about the type and volume of speech that would trigger potential criminal penalties, which is unacceptable.
Recent media accounts of retaliation against certain political donors reveal the true intent behind this legislation. It is not simply a "disclosure and disclaimer bill", as its authors claim. Rather, it is a not-so-transparent attempt to rend Citizens United into a legal nullity, by chilling the very speech rights that were restored in that landmark decision.
Due to the importance of the fundamental speech and associational rights of the National Rifle Association's four million members, and considering the blatant attack on those rights that S. 2219 represents, we strongly oppose the DISCLOSE Act and will consider votes on this legislation in future candidate evaluations.
Chris W. Cox
cc: Members of the U.S. Senate
I went from PDF to html. I left it as left justiified. I attempted to restore the spacing between paragraphs. Copying from PDF to html can cause typos, as I caught one.
My understanding is that there are freeware programs capable of exporting pdf to Word or html. Might save you some time.
Job well done. Easy to read.
Thanks for the tip.
So I guess they have a new version that does not exempt the NRA and Sierra Club this time around?
Hope they don’t get an exemption and sell everyone else down the river again.
Thank you for going to the trouble. Adobe is so laden with crap, it tends to hijack my machine.
Membership lists? Bite me.
Good to see the right to free association being popularized again. Obama and Co. may have done more to renew the general interest in liberty and the Constitution than we realize.