Deal with NRA may move DISCLOSE Act forward

Politico is reporting that Democrats have reached a deal in negotiations over the DISCLOSE Act that would extend an exemption to one portion of proposed campaign finance disclosure rules to a small group of nonprofits, such as the National Rifle Association.

The NRA had objected to some of the disclosure requirements for the new campaign finance proposals, and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation.

Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government affairs lobbyist, says the exemption is narrow enough that it shouldn’t derail Congress’ effort to blunt the effect of the landmark Citizens United ruling. That U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January opened the door for corporations and unions to spend an unlimited amount of money to influence our elections.

The DISCLOSE Act would require corporations to identify themselves on any advertisements they produce about candidates or issues, requiring the CEO of the corporation paying for an ad to appear in the ad’s disclaimer. The NRA would still be required to do that.

What it wouldn’t have to do is identify its major donors. The exemption worked out between Democrats and NRA lobbyists would create an exemption to the requirement that corporations provide the public a look at their donor data base. However, the exemption would only apply to nonprofits with more than 1 million members; with members in all 50 states; that have been in existence at least 10 years, and, that raise less than 15 percent of their funds from corporate donors.

Paul Blumenthal at the Sunlight Foundation blog says he can’t think of many nonprofits that would fit the exemption:

Aside from the NRA, I can only think of a few organizations that could fit into this exemption. AARP is one that comes to mind. Citizens Against Government Waste boasts of more than one million members, but I have no idea where they get their money from.