Disclose Act Sparks Dueling Letters to Senators
Earlier this month, dozens of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to senators arguing that the Disclose Act--which requires disclosure by independent organizations of donations and expenditures of more than $10,000--violates the First Amendment and targets corporations and business associations while including "exemptions that shield unions from burdensome disclosure."
The bill, the letter says, "is designed to chill the political speech of corporations, business interests, and others, while giving labor unions special protections ... the bill does not propose genuine reform - its disclosure requirements are transparently political and ultimately unconstitutional."
Other groups that signed the letter include Airlines for America, the American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, Associated Builders & Contractors and the National Federation of Independent Business.
But last week, the Campaign Legal Center sent senators a letter of its own. Its letter contends that disclosure requirements are necessary following the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and argues that the Disclose Act is constitutional. It also singles out the Chamber for advocating an approach with "unsettling and potentially dangerous consequences."
"In this letter, we seek to set the record straight - without partisan bias - as to why our nation's campaign finance disclosure system needs to be updated following Citizens United and why such efforts are directly in line with Supreme Court precedent," the letter says. "In addition, we urge you to see the Chamber's contention that the bill favors unions over business corporations as the smoke screen it is, and to reject this argument."
In response, Chamber spokesperson Blair Latoff said of the Disclose Act: "It is unfortunate that certain politicians want to single out and stifle the speech of one group - the business community - under the guise of 'disclosure.' This is a transparent, politically-motivated effort to seek out and punish a competing viewpoint in the political discourse. Rather than pursue these partisan games, we respectfully suggest that the Senate's time might be better spent passing its first budget in 3 years or moving forward on one of the many House-passed jobs bills."