The US Chamber of Commerce, is running an ad aimed at Democrats' efforts to push through the DISCLOSE Act, a bill designed to combat unregulated corporate influence over elections. The ad, which will run in D.C. this week, says that not only does the DISCLOSE Act restrict free speech – especially in light of the January Citizens United Supreme Court decision – but that it is hypocritical because it targets businesses while giving labor unions and some of the largest special interest groups in Washington “a pass, allowing them to continue to influence the electoral process." The “pass” that the Chamber refers to is a response to the compromise made last week between the NRA and congressional Democrats, that gave the NRA and other large select nonprofit groups exemption from the bill. The Disclose Act has hit some stumbling blocks in the House. It was supposed to be voted on last week, but backlash over the NRA compromise postponed the measure. If it does make it through the House, it is unclear when the Senate will take it up. The Chamber’s ad is the latest squabble between traditionally conservative lobbying groups in the post Citizens United political landscape. Along with the Chamber, the National Right to Life Committee, Family Research Council, and Christian Coalition have all released statements critical of the NRA carve-out. On June 18 the NRA-ILA released a statement in response to criticism over the Democrats' compromise, stating their new position to the bill was based on “principle and experience.” Interesting. The first half of the organization’s statement was critical of the original DISCLOSE Act text for it would have “prohibited political speech by all federal government contractors” and “put a gag order on the NRA during elections and threaten our members’ right to privacy and freedom of association." It seems the NRA is willing to no longer challenge the act, which they once claimed to be unconstitutional, when all that has been changed is the exemption for their members. The Chamber’s ad predicts, “Discriminating against America’s job creators will corrupt democracy." In equally strong language the Chamber, which reportedly plans to spend upward of $50 million on the midterms elections, looks to remind Congress that “America was founded on fairness and equality, not censorship and political expediency." With the vote for the DISCLOSE Act postponed from last Friday, expect more ads like the Chamber’s as the vote approaches the floor.Christopher J. Santarelli is an editorial intern at C&E.
The US Chamber of Commerce, is running an ad aimed at Democrats' efforts to push through the DISCLOSE Act, a bill designed to combat unregulated corporate influence over elections.