Pro-Life Group Still Opposes Disclose Act Despite Democrats’ Deal With NRA

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 15, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Group Still Opposes Disclose Act Despite Democrats’ Deal With NRA

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 15
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — A national pro-life organization is still oppose to the DISCLOSE Act, a campaign finance "reform" bill it says is really a stringent limit on the activities of pro-life groups. Despite a deal Democratic lawmakers struck with the National Rifle Association, the National Right to Life Committee is still opposed to it.

The measure is a response to the Supreme Court ruling striking down parts of the controversial McCain-Feingold campaign finance law many pro-life groups opposed because of the stringent limits placed on them.

NRLC has asked pro-life advocates to oppose the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175), on free speech concerns, calling the bill a "bullying political power grab," which is "not a curb on corruption, but itself a type of corruption.

The Right to Life group has said the measure is "a corruption of the lawmaking process, by which incumbent lawmakers employ the threat of criminal sanctions, among other deterrents, to reduce the amount of private speech regarding the actions of the lawmakers themselves."

House Democratic leaders were having problems moving the bill forward until they reached a compromise with the NRA, which had opposed the measure, to exempt it from the disclosure requirements that it worried would force it to make its membership lists public.

The exemption doesn’t mention the NRA specifically but allows 501(c)4 groups with more than one million members and affiliates in all 50 states and meeting other criteria to opt out of some of the requirements of the bill.

The changes aren’t enough for National Right to Life.

"NRLC is strongly opposed to the bill, viewing it as a blatant political attack on the constitutional rights of the organization and of its members and donors," it said. "President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders are pushing hard for quick enactment of a bill that would place extensive new legal restrictions on the ability of corporations – including incorporated nonprofit citizen groups such as NRLC — to communicate with the public about the actions of federal lawmakers."

The letter discusses a number of ways in which the legislation is designed to "to discourage, as much as possible, disfavored groups (such as NRLC) from communicating about officeholders, by exposing citizens who support such efforts to harassment and intimidation, and by smothering organizations in layer on layer of record keeping and reporting requirements, all backed by the threat of civil and criminal sanctions."

The bill would codify a vague and expansive definition of “express advocacy” under which any expenditure for a public communication that “takes a position on a candidate’s character, qualification, or fitness for office” might be deemed to be an “independent expenditure” and therefore subject to numerous burdensome and intrusive regulations.

One of those regulations involves NRLC and other pro-life groups having to identify donors publicly anytime it runs communications in certain times that ask people to contact Congress about legislation related to pro-life concerns.

"Our members and supporters have a right to support our public advocacy about important and controversial issues without having their identifying information posted on the Internet, exposing them to harassment or retribution by those who may disagree with their beliefs," NRLC says.

The legislation could come to a vote on the House floor this week if House Democrats believe they have enough votes to pass it.

Related web sites:
NRLC letter on DISCLOSE Act –
National Right to Life –


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