Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The NRA, rampant on the Hill . . .

Every morning I head into the computer a little after 7 and start trolling the news for the first WMRA Facebook post/question of the day. Bob Leweke and I chat back and forth about what's coming up on Morning Edition so, if possible, we can coordinate what I post with what he talks about.

This morning while trolling, I came across an AP article on the NPR site, that, even at such an early hour, made my jaw drop and my eyes pop. For me, it was a better wake-up than umpteen cups of coffee, so, in case you could use a little waking up at whatever time you're reading this, here's a link to the article and its first few paragraphs.

Displaying its remarkable clout, the National Rifle Association agreed on Tuesday to permit House passage of tougher disclosure requirements on campaign advertising and other political activity, one day after Democrats pledged to exempt the gun-owners' group from the bill's key provisions.
Supporters of the measure conceded that without the NRA's acquiescence, it was doomed to defeat.
"Any efforts to silence the political speech of NRA members will, as has been the case in the past, be met with strong opposition," the organization said in a statement in which it pledged to refrain from lobbying either for or against the legislation's passage as long as the exemption remains part of it.
The measure requires the listing of the names of the top five donors to an organization running political ads, including unions, businesses and nonprofit organizations. It also mandates that any individual or group paying for independent campaign activities report any expenditure of $10,000 or more made in excess of 20 days before an election. Expenditures greater than $1,000 would have to be disclosed within 24 hours in the final 20 days of a campaign.
In a concession negotiated over the weekend, House Democrats agreed to an exemption from the disclosure requirements for organizations that have been in existence for a decade, have at least 1 million dues-paying members and do not use any corporate or labor union money to finance their campaign-related expenditures.
In addition to the NRA, other organizations meeting the same criteria would also be exempt, but Democratic officials said Tuesday they were not immediately able to name any.
The Washington Post reported in Post Politics that the AARP and the Humane Society of the United States would also qualify for the exemption.

The liberal Huffington Post reporting on the exemption was titled "The NRA Remains King of the Hill."   That article, posted twelve hours ago as I write, has already drawn 4,922 comments ranging from "Awesome, I love it!" to "if senators [note: it is a House bill] are elected by the people only to then be instructed by a third party, what purpose does maintaining the charade of democracy serve?"

Snowflakes in Hell, a website devoted to firearms policy and politics in Pennsylvania had this to say:
I’m glad they got themselves an exemption, but by no means does that let the Democrats off the hook for trying to stifle free speech like this. Campaign Finance laws protect incumbents, which is why I’m sure the Democratic leadership in Congress is pushing this hard before November.
The House bill is designed to push back against the recent Supreme Court ruling that gutted existing campaign finance regulations. It's interesting, isn't it, that just as Congress deems some businesses too big to fail, it also evidently deems some special interest groups too big to regulate. Kansas reports the bill is expected to have a much better chance to pass now that the NRA has agreed to stop lobbying against it.
"The reality is that NRA controls a goodly number of members of Congress and they're not going to vote for a bill it's against," said Sarah Duffendach, the vice president for legislative affairs for Common Cause, a non-profit government watchdog group. "You have to balance what you get in the disclosure bill versus what the NRA gets. You don't want to kill a good bill because of one provision."
My job, as WMRA's blogger-in-chief is to present rather than comment. But I sure would like to know your reaction to the latest Congressional compromise made to move legislation forward.

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