Virginia Democratic representative Tom Perriello is busy defending the National Rifle Association (NRA) from critics on both sides of the ideological divide. On one side, groups who support the DISCLOSE Act’s campaign ad transparency requirements (corporate ad-funding donors must be revealed) wonder why the NRA should get a free ride. On the other side, groups who oppose the Act (for its potentially chilling effect on donors who’d prefer to remain anonymous) wonder why the NRA should get a free ride when everybody else will be forced to name names. Into this fur ball strides Periiello, whose pro-exemption argument is about as elegant as the Pontiac Aztek. What’s the bet it gets even worse mileage?
The DISCLOSE Act is about taking control of our politics away from corporate front groups and handing it back to the people. The NRA, with its four million dues-paying members, is the epitome of people-powered politics and they deserve to have their voices heard in elections. Maybe liberal groups and the Wall Street Journal don’t understand that for over 125 years, the NRA has represented millions of everyday Americans who are passionate about the freedoms afforded us under the Second Amendment and want to hold our elected officials accountable to those standards. Liberals may not like the NRA’s beliefs but they should admire their people-powered organizing. Our democracy should respect the difference between a group with four million members and a corporate front group writing a $4 million check. This bill is not about favoring groups with a particular belief but about handing our democracy back to the people.