U.S. Chamber Will Rate DISCLOSE Vote

Posted May 27, 2010 at 12:43pm

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will grade lawmakers’ votes on a campaign finance bill that may reach the House floor before Members depart for the Memorial Day recess.

On Thursday, the business organization alerted its membership that it will “key vote” the DISCLOSE Act, a bill sponsored by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.). The legislation is designed to roll back elements of the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

In its 5-4 ruling, the high court in January threw out most restrictions on political advertising paid for by corporations, trade associations and other nonprofit organizations. The chamber claims the new legislation, which has two Republican co-sponsors, is an infringement on constitutionally protected free speech rights.

“The publicly announced intent of the bill’s authors … is to squelch this constitutionally protected speech and to try and hobble associations that give voice to their members’ views in the political process,” chamber lobbyist Bruce Josten wrote in a May 27 letter.

In a statement, Van Hollen spokesman Doug Thornell called the chamber’s opposition to the bill “not surprising.”

“The DISCLOSE Act is designed to shed sunlight and increase transparency on those entities spending money on our elections,” Thornell said. “This is an objective the vast majority of Americans support. Either the Chamber has been too busy spreading misinformation and launching partisan attacks to even bother to have read the bill or they prefer to operate in the shadows.”