Today, Americans for Tax Reform, joined by over fifty other organizations, sent a letter to the Senate urging members to reject the DISCLOSE Act. After its passage in the House last month, Sen. Schumer cobbled together an almost identical version to introduced in the Senate last week. The differences between the two bills – a carve-out that eliminated the requirement for unions to disclose transfers of money to affiliates – illustrates that the bill is simply a political front for slanting the campaign finance landscape in favor of the current majority for the upcoming elections. Amongst other things, the bill:

  • Mandates advocacy groups to disclose all of their donors instead of the ones funding communications, shifting the focus of current campaign finance reporting from speakers to those who associate with speakers. This makes mututally exclusive the rights to free speech and assembly in the First Amendment.
  • Forces top donors to a group or corporation to appear in a political advertisement to provide a disclaimer. This assumes the top donors are the actual donors to an ad, which may not be the case, and offends to notion of privacy agreed upon by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama.
  • Requires onerous disclaimers for radio and television advertisements. By some estimates, these disclaimers will take up over half of the air time for a 30 second ad, and constitute a government mandate for speech.
  • Tips the balance in favor of union speech by excluding labor groups from most of the new provisions in this bill and setting arbitrary disclosure thresholds that fall just above typical union dues. This represents a stark departure from traditional campaign finance regulation, where labor unions and corprorations have been treated similarly.
  • Establishes a capricious understanding of a "foreign corporation" and effectively silences millions of American workers by prohibiting political speech by such businesses.

The bill is scheduled for a cloture vote in the Senate tomorrow at 2:45 p.m. Click here to read the coalition letter opposing the DISCLOSE Act and call your Senator to tell them to oppose this thinly-veiled attack on free speech.