S. 3628 Archives - Shopfloor

DISCLOSE: Don’t Limit Advocacy, Just Be a Better Advocate!

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying, Labor Unions, Regulations | No Comments

The Senate has scheduled a cloture vote on a motion to proceed to S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act, at 2:15 p.m. (Procedural details.) You’ll remember that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted no the last time the Senate debated cloture on the bill, which allows him to make a motion to reconsider it.

Jacob Sullum at Reason has a good column on the politics of the issue, “Ad Rage,” challenging the latest line of partisan argument that corporate campaign spending has already overwhelmed the public debate this election season. Sullum concludes by referring to President Obama’s last weekly address, in which the President choose to condemn campaign advertising rather than issues the public considers more pressing, that is, the economy and jobs.

Toward the end of his speech on Saturday, Obama accidentally told the truth. “You can make sure that the tens of millions of dollars spent on misleading ads do not drown out your voice,” he said. “Because no matter how many ads they run—no matter how many elections they try to buy—the power to determine the fate of this country doesn’t lie in their hands. It lies in yours.”

Exactly right, Mr. President. No matter how shadowy or flush with corporate dollars an interest group is, the only thing Citizens United allowed it to do is speak. Advocacy has no impact unless it persuades people. So why not talk about the issues instead of impugning the motives of people who take a different position on them than you do?

In July, the National Association of Manufacturers sent a “Key Vote” letter to the Senate opposing S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act, and related procedural votes.
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No Time for Vote on Tax Rates, but to Restrict Political Speech, Sure!

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying, Labor Unions | No Comments

UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): The National Association of Manufacturers this morning against sent our “Key Vote” letter opposing
S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act, to the U.S. Senate. The letter was initially distributed in July with the first Senate vote on the bill. …

The Hill, “Dems plan last-ditch vote on Disclose Act“:

Democrats plan to rally their troops for the final stretch of the campaign season by bringing up a campaign-finance transparency bill.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) on Tuesday announced plans for a last-ditch vote on the measure, dubbed the Disclose Act. A vote on the bill is expected Thursday.

Politico, Ben Smith writing on Tuesday, “DISCLOSE vote will wait for high-dollar fundraiser

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just scheduled a vote on the DISCLOSE Act, which would force donors to publish their involvement in political ad campaigns, for Thursday.

Why not tomorrow [Wednesday], you might ask? Because there are no votes in the Senate scheduled for tomorrow. And that may be, in part, because there’s something else going on tomorrow: A big New York fundraiser for the Senate Democrats.

“I would be honored if you would join me for a very special reception with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in New York. We have a limited numbers of tickets available to our general reception. If you would like to join us, please contact …[redacted]@dscc.org.”

Surprised the vote wasn’t scheduled as part of the Defense authorization debate.
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Senate Turns Back Disclose Act, 57-41

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying | 2 Comments

The cloture vote to end debate on S.3628, the DISCLOSE Act, failed by a vote of  57-41.

 The First Amendment remains safe for one more day.

Senate Majority Leader Reid voted no, preserving the right to bring the bill back — “reconsideration” — at some future date. Just a gesture, we think. Otherwise, it was a partisan vote, Democrats in support, Republicans opposed. [Here’s the roll call vote.]

Again, here’s the National Association of Manufacturers’ Key Vote letter opposing the legislation. NAM Executive Vice President Jay Timmons also issued a statement urging the bill’s defeat.

In the just-completed debate, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky methodically demolished the arguments for the speech-limiting legislation. The Republican leader frankly addressed the partisan issues at play and added substantive critiques to make his case:

In order to make sure this bill isn’t held up by something as inconvenient as a challenge on first amendment grounds, its authors have made sure no court action interferes with their new restrictions this election cycle and maybe next. They add multiple layers of review. …

The authors of the bill labored behind closed doors to decide who would retain the right to speak; In direct defiance of what the Supreme Court made clear this past January, when Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said, “[W]e find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers.”

That is precisely what the Disclose Act does. It imposes restrictions on speech. And I would note that the one category of speakers upon whom the so-called reformers have bestowed the greatest speech rights in this bill are corporations that own media outlets. So a company that owns a TV network, newspaper or blog can say what they want, when they want, as often as they want.

Yes, newspaper editorialists often prefer to ignore that last point.

UPDATE (4:30 p.m.): The Center for Competitive Politics, an essential resource throughout Congress’ consideration of this ill-conceived bill, has issued a statement, “DISCLOSE Act blocked in Senate.” As is the Center’s wont, the release contains numerous substantive examples of how the bill targeted specific groups with its speech restrictions: Read More

NAM Key Votes Against Anti-Speech DISCLOSE Act

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying | One Comment

The National Association of Manufacturers has just sent a “Key Vote” letter to the U.S. Senate, expressing strong opposition to S. 3628, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act.


Put simply, this bill threatens First Amendment freedoms and is a direct assault on the U.S. Constitution. Its purpose is to hinder the ability of organizations, including associations such as the NAM, to give a voice to their members’ views and priorities. The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized that voluntary associations are key participants in the public debate, and that government’s attempts to curb participation in associations in order to stifle their voice in the public debate violate the First Amendment. There need be no further discussion on whether First Amendment freedoms should apply to some and not to others.

The DISCLOSE Act would curb the First Amendment rights of many companies that regularly participate in contracts with the federal government or have limited foreign ownership or control. We believe its onerous disclosure provisions could easily be used to create “political enemies” lists or to promote boycotts – all aimed at chilling companies’ legitimate advocacy activities. It is unconscionable that these same restrictions do not apply equally to unions representing government workers or unions with foreign members or directors.

The NAM uses “Key Vote” letters to rate a member of Congress’ voting record on manufacturing issues.

Earlier today, “DISCLOSE Act: Still Chilling Political Speech