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15 July 2012

Praise: The DISCLOSE Act

There are a few responses to the Citizens United decision that are underway.  Some seek a constitutional amendment to declare that corporations are not persons and thus deny them the right to contribute to campaigns and PACs, but a constitutional amendment is notoriously difficult to achieve.  Legislation is much, much easier.  One of the legislative approaches I started to look at following today's e-mail from Eugene Delgaudio, who regularly lies about legislation that is usually directed at equal treatment of gays and lesbians.

Mr. Delgaudio's paranoia goes in a new direction with today's e-mail. As always, he thinks that my first name is "Some".  Here we go.
Dear Some,
There is a dangerous bill before the U.S. Senate right now.
And unlike the other legislation the Homosexual Lobby is pushing, this one is not designed to give radical homosexuals special privileges...
Of course, there is no "Homosexual Lobby" and there are no "special privileges" sought by the LGBTQ Community.  We want equality.  But that is not what has Eugene Delgaudio scared this time.
This bill, the DISCLOSE Act, will be used to attack Public Advocate directly.
Let's pause and look at what the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act of 2012, also called the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, really is.  According to the Library of Congress

Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act of 2012 or DISCLOSE 2012 Act - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to redefine the term "independent expenditure" as an expenditure by a person 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 because it can be interpreted by a reasonable person only as advocating the election or defeat of a candidate, taking into account whether the communication involved mentions a candidacy, a political party, or a challenger to a candidate, or takes a position on a candidates, qualifications, or fitness for office.

Expands the period during which certain communications are treated as electioneering communications.

Prescribes disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, and certain other entities, including a political committee with an account established for the purpose of accepting donations or contributions that do not comply with the contribution limits or source prohibitions under FECA (but only with respect to such accounts).

Prescribes disclaimer requirements for public communications that include functional equivalent of express advocacy.

Requires any communication transmitted through radio or television to include an individual or organizational disclosure statement, together with: (1) the Top Two Funders List of the persons providing the largest and second largest aggregate payments of $10,000 or more for a radio communication, and (2) the Top Five Funders List of the five persons providing the largest aggregate payments of $10,000 or more for a television communication.

Repeals the prohibition against political contributions by individuals age 17 or younger.

So, this would force Mr. Delgaudio to disclose his donor list when he is trying to use his tax exempt, non-profit organization to influence elections.  Here is more of Mr. Delgaudio's e-mail.
The DISCLOSE Act is being disguised by the radical left as an attempt to level the playing field.
But in reality, it will force every non-profit lobby organization -- like Public Advocate -- to reveal their complete lists of donors!
My friend, the Homosexual Lobby will not hesitate to use this information to attack all the Public Advocate’s donors; pro-Family Americans who have given generously to see the Homosexual Agenda stopped.
So, this is today's paranoia.  If their names are revealed, the bigots who contribute to Eugene Delgaudio's organization, certified as an active anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, will stop giving so generously.  They won't want their bigotry to be known by others.
That’s why we have to join with millions of other conservative Americans in telling the Senate to vote no on the DISCLOSE Act.
Mr. Delgaudio goes on to beg for money as he always does. 

Regarding the DISCLOSE Act, it should be obvious that I am biased and want to have Mr. Delgaudio's group and all hate organizations exposed to more sunshine.  The League of Women Voters, usually seen as non-partisan, has published a FAQ on the DISCLOSE Act.  They even address Mr. Delgaudio's fear directly.

Q.  Won’t disclosure of large contributions expose funders to unfair retaliation by disgruntled activists? 

 A.  The Supreme Court has held that the value of disclosure to informing voters outweighs any minor or imagined retaliation against funders.  The Court has said that in real, demonstrated cases of retaliation, an exception to disclosure may be granted.

They also address the notion that this might be aimed at solely conservative organizations.

Q.  Aren’t unions given special treatment in the DISCLOSE Act so that Democrats can protect their funding sources?

A.  We don’t believe so.  Unions are covered by the DISCLOSE Act, just as for-profit and non-profit corporations and trade associations such as the Chamber of Commerce are covered.

Q.  Isn’t the DISCLOSE Act just a way to limit Republican funding sources so that Democrats will have an electoral advantage?

A.  When campaign finance loopholes are created, both political parties typically do their best to exploit the loophole.  The disclosure loophole created by the huge spending unleashed by Citizens United will be no different.  The voters are the ones who will lose because without disclosure, they can’t know who is trying to influence their votes.

While I like the idea that corporations should not be legally recognized as persons in terms of our election system, I also like sunshine.  If we don't know who is attacking us, there is a huge problem.

But I am writing anonymously.  Well, if I have full equality, including having no risk to my employment for being gay, then I will be happy to have sunshine on myself as well.

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