I’ve heard a bit about this act before. But today I read an article that talked about how the National Right to Life Committee and other Pro-Life groups are opposing it. That caught my interest since I consider abortion to be the worst cancer on our society, ever. It’s far worse than slavery. So I decided to do some research. Here is the summary of the bill from Open Congress.

4/29/2010--Introduced.Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act or DISCLOSE Act - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to prohibit: (1) independent expenditures and payments for electioneering communications by government contractors if the value of the contract is at least $50,000; and (2) recipients of assistance under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) from making any contribution to any political party, committee, or candidate for public office, or to any person for any political purpose or use, or from making any independent expenditure or disbursing any funds for an electioneering communication. Applies the ban on contributions and expenditures by foreign nationals to foreign-controlled domestic corporations. Treats as contributions: (1) any payments by any person (except a candidate, a candidate's authorized committee, or a political committee of a political party) for coordinated communications; and (2) political party communications made on behalf of candidates if made under the control or direction of a candidate or a candidate's authorized committee. Revises the definition of independent expenditure to mean, in part, an expenditure that, when taken as a whole, expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, or is the functional equivalent of express advocacy. Requires any person making independent expenditures exceeding $10,000 to file a report within 24 hours. Increases the period before a general election during which a communication shall be considered an electioneering communication. Requires corporations, labor organizations, and other covered organizations to include specified additional information in reports on independent expenditures of at least $10,000. Sets forth special rules for the use of general treasury funds by covered organizations for campaign-related activity. Authorizes covered organizations to make optional use of a separate Campaign-Related Activity Account for making disbursements for campaign-related activity. Prescribes additional information to be included in certain radio or television communications by persons (including significant funders of campaign-related communications of a covered organization) other than a candidate, a candidate's authorized committee, or a political committee of a political party. Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require registered lobbyists to report information on independent expenditures or electioneering communications of at least $1,000 to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Requires certain covered organizations to disclose to shareholders, members, or donors information on disbursements for campaign-related activity. Authorizes judicial review of the provisions of this Act.

Now, as with most law, it’s written in a way to is hard to understand. After all, if it wasn’t written that way, the lawyers that make up our political system would be out of a job… Anyway, here’s what I understand it means.

  1. If you are a company not owned by the government, and you have a contract worth more than $50,000, then that contract will be canceled if you try to send out communications supporting a particular political candidate. I don’t get this, the money paid to them is not federal money anymore. So what they do with it is none of the Governments business.
  2. If you got bailed out by TARP, you can’t comminucate about political stuff. Aren’t TARP funds loans? I get student loans from the Federal Government, does that mean I shouldn’t speak out about things?
  3. The second two parts are a little confusing. I think they mainly apply to foreigners. If that’s not true, then it’s a clear violation of our freedom of speech.

If you look at the section below you see the stuff that bothers the NRLC:

Prescribes additional information to be included in certain radio or television communications by persons (including significant funders of campaign-related communications of a covered organization) other than a candidate, a candidate’s authorized committee, or a political committee of a political party. Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require registered lobbyists to report information on independent expenditures or electioneering communications of at least $1,000 to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Requires certain covered organizations to disclose to shareholders, members, or donors information on disbursements for campaign-related activity.

Basically, if you spend a lot of money to support your favorite candidate by telling people why you like him, you have to report a bunch of information to a bunch of different people. Or you get in trouble. That puts a rather large damper on peoples desire to speak out about things, thus it’s just a tiny bit away from restricting free speech.

It also will force grassroots organizations to publish lists of who’s donated money to their political campaigns. In other words, they are forced to tell their opponents who supports them. Thus opening up their supporters to backlash from their opponents. And don’t think there wouldn’t be backlash. That’s what happened with Propisition 8.

What do you think? Have you heard anything about this that contradicts what I’ve said? I’d love to hear different perspectives. Especially the ones that oppose mine.