In a letter opposing the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 — a bill to allow citizens to know what corporations and wealthy donors are paying for the “independent expenditure” attack ads enabled by the 5-4 Citizens United ruling — the National Rifle Association (NRA) is warning Senators it will score the issue in its legislative scorecard for this Congress.
The NRA opposes the measure — arguing that its “provisions require organizations to turn membership and donor lists over to the government” and would unconstitutionally abridge the right of citizens “to speak and associate privately and anonymously.” The legislation would merely require groups that opt to run outside political ads to tell voters which donors funded those efforts. By setting up a separate bank account for independent political spending, a group like the NRA would be able to keep its membership list private and would need only disclose the large money donors paying for the group’s campaign ads. Far from being unconstitutional, this sort of disclosure was explicitly endorsed in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Citizens United majority opinion as “the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations.”
The NRA might want to be careful. This stuff cuts both ways and I could easily see someone like a post mayoral Bloomberg dumping a ton of secret money into more gun control policies…
That said, secret money flooding the political system is a corrupting influence that threatens our democracy. All Americans, gun owners and non gun owners, risk losing their voices in the torrent of corporate cash, and with that we risk losing all our rights-from the right to bear arms to everything else.
The Senate will be voting on the Disclose Act Monday. Make sure to call Pryor’s office in the morning and tell him to stand firm and vote yes: