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You gotta love the Progressives. They never give up. Today, the DISCLOSE Act failed to pass. The Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act would effectively muzzle most political action groups, advocacy organizations, and issue groups (except for the NRA, the Unions, and the AARP, all of which were exempted from the law). The procedural vote on the  was 57-41, falling three votes shy of the 60 needed to head off a Republican filibuster, as reported by NBC. The GOP voted as one against the bill, and because Joe Libermann (I-Connecticut) was absent for a funeral, the bill failed. One prominent Dem voted “nay”: Senator Harry Reid. Huh?

You might ask yourself, “Self, why would Harry Reid, a proponent of the DISCLOSE Act, vote against it.” Ah, but you’re obviously not versed in the wiley ways of the Senate and their arcane rules on failed legislation. It seems that only someone from the “losing side” can bring the bill back up for a vote. Understand? Neither do I. But rest assured, Reid does.

The DISCLOSE Act likely wouldn’t have passed Constitutional muster, as it would silence some groups and allow others to fund political advertising, but it also likely would have survived just long enough to affect the outcome of this Fall’s Congressional elections. The bill’s backers wanted to head off any “SwiftBoat”-style attack ads at the pass. Nonetheless, Reid’s move preserves the possibility threat that the bill will live on to sneak through another day.

What would the DISCLOSE Act mean to you? Well, it would have effectively muzzled any pro-gun lobby group (outside the specifically-exempted NRA) from running ads in this next election cycle, thus giving the anti-gun candidates a leg up. The law was carefully crafted to allow unions a free pass at political ads, so the other side would have been well-represented.

Will the law come back up? Bet on it. The Dems want to tip the scales to their advantage, and maintain their hold on power by any means necessary. Not that the GOP should be lining up to apply for sainthood any time soon. They are typically just not as blatant as the Dems are, when it comes to abuses of power.

Ultimately, the solution isn’t the defeat of the DISCLOSE Act, or even a Republican takeover of Congress. Nope. The solution is much simpler – and more difficult to achieve than that. Throw the rascals out. All of them. On both sides.

Now that’s change I can believe in.

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  1. Officially, HR 5175 was intended:

    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.

    OpenCongress summarizes:

    This is the Democrats' response to the Supreme Courts' recent Citizens United v. FEC ruling. It seeks to increase transparency of corporate and special-interest money in national political campaigns. It would require organizations involved in political campaigning to disclose the identity of the large donors, and to reveal their identities in any political ads they fund. It would also bar foreign corporations, government contractors and TARP recipients from making political expenditures. Notably, the bill would exempt all long-standing, non-profit organizations with more than 500,000 members from having to disclose their donor lists.

    The SCOTUS decision allows opponents to spend as much money as they can raise advertising against a given candidate. That would include producing attack docudramas and making sure they are broadcast in prime time just before elections. The Disclose act would have required that the major donors of the money be documented and disclosed (except for the loopholes).

    The loophole was a legal flaw, but I don't see why we shouldn't know who really puts up the money for an attack ad or a film that either promotes or undermines a candidate. Disclose would only muzzle people, and corporations, that prefer to act behind the scenes. My donations can be found on any number of websites, so why shouldn't theirs?

    • According to what I've read, the Devil (as always) is in the details. Let's say you want to form a non-profit who's charter supports the private ownership of so-called "assault weapons," and to deny support for a renewal of the Clinton assault weapons ban. Unless you're the NRA, AARP or a union, the rules would make it all but impossible for you to advertise – because of the very rules you're citing. I create TV spots for a living. The rules these clowns have come up with would make a typical 30 second spot useless, because about 20 seconds of it would be taken up with the "fine print" – a.k.a. a massive disclosure. And that's not the worst of it.

      If you wanna fix campaign finance, there's a solution – a much better one, in fact. Draft a law that would allow ANYbody or any domestically-owned or controlled company to advertise, but put the monkey on the back of the candidate to report every dollar donated on line. In other words, let's see who's buying whom. If Chris Dodd gets over 80% of his campaign war chest from contributors outside his home state (true, by the way), let's see who they are. No exceptions. And furthermore, any group that gives money must provide a membership list as well. That way you won't have "People for the American Way" hiding behind a patriotic-sounding name…they'll have to disclose where THEIR money comes from, preventing some ass clown like George Sorros from buying elections. Simple, no?

      • No offense, but those thirty second ads generally suck. If I run an ad hinting that Newt Gingrich was the father of Jamie Lynn Spears baby often enough, people will start to believe it unless Gingrich runs debunking ads just as often. So the campaigns devolve into televised mud-slinging. And with everyone getting into the act, the candidates don't have say, "I approved this ad."

        To my mind, someone has to approve the ad and take the heat for throwing mud, and a list of donors on a website somewhere doesn't quite cut it.

  2. Dear Mr. Kozak. I've been impressed with your writing, especially your background. In the 1960's I also was a successful graphic artist, advertising executive, writer, hunter and newly informed conservative. I became politically active, informed and unfortunatly elected. I loved the graphic arts field but had no intention in having the best graphic arts firm in the socialist state of California…so…I stayed in politics, wrote a bit and formed GOA. You have no idea what a comfort you are to an old artist like me. HLR

    • Thanks! I'm flattered that you read and like my work. We should probably talk sometime…I have a pet project that I'd like to discuss with you – something right up the GOA's alley. You can reach me at [email protected] if you'd like to know more.

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