H.R.5175: DISCLOSE Act

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To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, to prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and to establish additional disclosure requirements with respect to spending in such elections, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Chris Van HollenCommittees: House Committee on House Administration, House Committee on the Judiciary


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Summary (how summaries work)

This bill adds new regulations to corporate financing of political campaigns. It prohibits campaign financing by foreign owned corporations as well as those that receive government contracts worth more than $10 million. The bill also adds disclosure requirements to corporate and labor-union financed political advertisements, requiring for example that CEOs appear in TV ads paid for by their corporations.

The bill exempts large advocacy groups from these disclosure requirements, a provision that has aroused controversy.




Contents

Bill provisions

Foreign Entities:

The bill would prohibit entities controlled by foreign citizens from spending on political campaigns.  To be subject to this restriction, at least 20% of an organization must be owned by foreign nationals, or else a majority of its board members must be foreign nationals. 

Government Contractors:

The bill would prohibit any corporation that receives more than $10 million in government contracts from spending on political campaigns.  This restriction also applies to companies receiving federal bailout money.

Disclosure:

The bill would put in place new disclosure laws on advocacy groups, requiring advocacy organizations to disclose lists of major corporate and private donors.

Exceptions:

Groups meeting a set of criteria are exempt from the bill's disclosure rules.  To be exempt, an organization must:

  • Have been established for over 10 years
  • Have at least 500,000 members who have contributed dues for at least one year
  • Have members in all 50 states
  • Receive no more than 15% of their funds from corporate donors<span />

Bill history

The bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08), on April 29, 2010.  The bill was offered in response to the Supreme Court's January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which undid previous limitations on corporate political contributions [1]

The bill enjoyed relatively support in the House, where it passed by a vote of 274 - 151.

Carve Out:

The bill aroused controversy when congressional Democrats reached a deal with the NRA, to offer an amendment that would carve out a list of excluded organizations, in order keep them from opposing the bill [2]

The amendment excludes large, well established organizations from the bill's relatively strict disclosure requirements.

Liberals worried that the exemption weakened the bill, by permitting powerful lobbying interests to avoid its stricter disclosure requirements.[3] Conservative opponents, who claimed that the bill constituted an unreasonable restirction on first amendment rights, were upset by the apparent deal, accusing the NRA of trading "First Amendment Rights for Second Amendment Rights" [4]

Articles and resources

See also

Moshe Bildner, "Conservatives and Liberals Angry over NRA's DISCLOSE Act Deal" "OpenCongress blog", June 21, 2010.

References

  1. David M. Herszenhorn, "House Approves Legislation That Mandates the Disclosure of Political Spending" "NYTimes", June 24, 2010.
  2. John Bresnahan, "Dems close to campaign finance deal" "Politico", June 14, 2010.
  3. Scott Nance, "House Passes DISCLOSE Act With NRA Exception, Sparking Outrage On Both Sides" "The Democratic Daily", June 26, 2010.
  4. Raven Clabough, "NRA Trades First Amendment Rights for Second Amendment Rights" "New American", June 17, 2010.

External resources

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