Democrats Target Free Speech in Senate Vote Tuesday

The Senate is slated to vote Tuesday afternoon on a procedural cloture motion that would bring the latest version of the DISCLOSE Act to the Senate floor for debate. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) latest attempt at a Democrat incumbency protection program still contains the special interest exemptions for groups like the Sierra Club and the NRA, which makes only groups without millions of members a target of the political free speech ban.

Democrats are desperate to overturn the Supreme Court Citizens United decision which restored certain free speech rights previously stripped by Congress.  Schumer seeks to re-impose and expand on the political free speech restrictions with his new bill. 

Schumer avoided transparency on the bill, sidestepping the committee process using a special rule in the Senate that would allow the free speech ban to go straight to floor consideration.

In Section 214 of this latest version of the Orwellian-named DISCLOSE Act, Schumer insulates union donors from the new on-air top-funder disclaimer and top-five-funder listing requirements expanding on earlier version language containing the “stand by your ad” provisions.

Members of major trade organizations would be required to provide the disclaimers, but Schumer’s bill requires no such disclaimer accountability from unions, which are funded primarily through member dues. 

The bill in Section 211 would also allow union transfers of up to $50,000 to “affiliate” national unions for ads without local high-dollar donor disclosures.  Donations in excess of that affiliate limit would require only disclosure of local donors giving in excess of $10,000.

This language was sought by labor unions and added by Schumer in this latest version cleared for procedural cloture vote today.

“The DISCLOSE Act seeks to protect unpopular Democrat politicians by silencing their critics and exempting their campaign supporters from an all out attack on the First Amendment,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.  “In the process, the authors of the bill have decided to trade our Constitutional rights away in a backroom deal that makes the Cornhusker Kickback look like a model of legislative transparency.”

That last jab was aimed at Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who traded his vote for hundreds of millions of dollars in carve outs when voting in favor of Obamacare.  Nelson is one of several Democrats believed to be wavering in their support of this free speech ban. 

“The mere suggestion that a bill designed to save politicians’ jobs should take precedent over helping millions of Americans find work is an embarrassing indictment of Democrats’ priorities,” McConnell said.

Many Senate Democrats agree with McConnell that bringing another politically-charged bill to the floor — this one aimed at gutting First Amendment protections — is a politically tone deaf leadership move in the lead-up to a month-long August recess in their red state homes suffering from Obamanomics’ high unemployment rate.

Democrats are likely to desert the sinking DISCLOSE Act ship after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced late Monday she would not vote for cloture on the bill which needs 60 votes to sidestep committee and go directly to the floor for debate.