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POLITICS

DISCLOSE Act comes up short in the Senate

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Mark Hemingway

The Democrats ballyhooed campaign finance bill, the DISCLOSE Act, came up short in the Senate today failing to get the necessary 60 votes for cloture:

Senate Democrats failed to attract a single Republican vote on the DISCLOSE Act Tuesday, effectively defeating the bill and casting doubts over whether any campaign finance measure can pass the upper chamber before the November elections.

Aides in both the Senate and the House insist the legislation will come up for consideration again. But with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) painting the bill – which failed 57-41 – as detrimental to his conference, a packed legislative docket and contentious elections on the horizon, sending the DISCLOSE Act to the president’s desk now appears to be a long shot at best.

The bill was meant to undo the damage allegedly created by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling earlier this year, which upended much of the campaign finance laws on already on the books. The trouble was that in enacting new campaign finance laws, the Democrats tried to exempt unions — a favored constituency — from many of the rules that were to govern political speech. The Examiner editorialized against the bill when it passed the House, and the more odious provisions had been left untouched by the Senate:

The bill is full of draconian restrictions on individual political speech expressed via corporations, but gives privileged status to the Democrats’ union masters. A provision pushed by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Bob Brady, for example, allows unions to transfer unlimited funds among affiliated groups to pay for political ads with no disclosure whatever. That makes campaign funding more transparent?

Then there’s the ban on advocacy for or against a candidate by any company that received Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. That silences General Motors’ white-collar workers, but not the United Auto Workers union, which, oh by the way, got, among other things, $6.5 billion in preferred GM stock, paying a government-guaranteed 9 percent cash dividend. Could the fact the UAW gave more than $2 million to Democrats in 2008 explain why Democratic leaders pushed a proposal that so blatantly favors the union?

Similarly, DISCLOSE curbs political speech for employees of companies receiving more than $7 million in government contracts. Public sector unions that spend millions of recycled tax dollars electing Democrats have no such restrictions. By thus outlawing business funding for or against candidates, DISCLOSE will encourage more funding for corporate lobbyists and marketers targeting government contracts and earmarks.

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