Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Try to Blunt Citizens United

Senator Schumer on Wednesday introduced a new version of the DISCLOSE Act, his attempt to blunt the impact of the Supreme Court's January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.  That case held that federal restrictions on corporate and labor union "electioneering communication" violated the First Amendment Speech Clause. 

Sen. Schumer introduced an earlier version of the DISCLOSE Act; we posted most recently on that effort here.  Both the earlier effort and the new effort seek to address Citizens United by increasing disclosure requirements for corporations and labor unions (which were upheld under Citizens United) and prohibiting certain recipients of government funds (e.g., TARP recipients, certain government contractors) from engaging in electioneering communication.

The new bill is designed to gain the support of Maine's two Republicans, Senators Snowe and Collins, and thus to break a GOP-led filibuster, according to The Hill.  The bill will come up for a vote on Tuesday; supporters hope to bring it immediately to the floor, by-passing a committee mark-up.

The new bill, S. 3628, not yet available from the GPO, makes several significant changes:

  • It drops the House-added provision to the earlier bill exempting labor unions from reporting fund transfers in excess of $50,000 between affiliates.  Under the new bill, corporations and labors unions must report such transfers.
  • It drops the House-added "loophole" in the earlier version that requires disclosure of transfers of $10,000 or more only if the money could be traced to a large individual donor.
  • It requires businesses and unions to state their geographic location in TV ads, but not radio ads.

The new bill retains a provision exempting the National Rifle Association and several other large organizations from reporting requirements, according to Politico.  The new bill does not include a provision pushed by Rep. Kucinich that would have prohibited companies holding leases for drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (and aimed at BP) from engaging in electioneering communication.


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