Are you surprised at the story below? Of course not. You knew all along that the United States Congress is no more capable of controlling its urges than is Wall Street or Big Oil. Once the NRA carved out its own little exemption, you knew with mathematical certainty that everybody else would try to crowd through the door. And that only the lobbies with the shallowest pockets would be left outside, forced to identify their top five sugar daddies.
The purpose of this legislation was to undo some of the damage done done to free speech by the Supreme Court when it gutted the McCain-Feingold Act in January. But the result is likely to be even greater damage to democracy: one (or several) of the smaller lobbies will certainly protest its exclusion in court, complaining reasonably enough of discrimination based on size and wealth.
And then the Roberts court, snickering up its sleeve, will hurry to protect the little fellow — by declaring unconstitutional the bill currently being debated that attempts, however pitifully, to keep corporations from drowning out the rest of us at election time.
And then it will be a long time, perhaps forever, before Congress bothers to tilt again at this particular windmill.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats agreed to exempt an unspecified number of large, well-known interest groups from proposed new disclosure requirements on political advertising on Thursday, seeking to quell charges they were giving special treatment to the powerful National Rifle Association.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said that under the last-minute change, “well-established organizations on the right and left” engaging in campaign activity, the NRA among them, would not be required to identify their top donors.
Democratic leaders announced plans for the legislation to come to a vote on Thursday, but that schedule appeared less than firm after rank and file moderates and members of the Congressional Black Caucus raised fresh objections. The leadership arranged afternoon meetings with representatives of both groups, and other changes were possible in the measure.
Under the bill, labor unions, corporations and nonprofit organizations that air political ads or conduct campaign activity would have to disclose their top five donors.
The bill also requires any individual or group paying for independent campaign activities to report any expenditure of at least $10,000 made more than 20 days before an election. Expenditures greater than $1,000 would have to be disclosed within 24 hours in the final 20 days of a campaign.