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Liberal opposition to Van Hollen-NRA deal grows

By Dan Eggen
More than three dozen liberal-leaning groups vowed Wednesday to oppose Democratic campaign-reform legislation if it includes a special deal exempting the National Rifle Association, casting further doubt on the legislation's prospects.

Many liberal groups have united in outrage over the deal negotiated earlier this week by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who is attempting to garner support for a bill that would require most corporations, unions and nonprofit groups to identify top donors and other infomation related to spending on election advertising and other political activities. The NRA had threatened to oppose the bill without an exemption, leading to a compromise disclosed Monday.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Alliance for Justice, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and 43 other groups decried an exemption "which,
given the amendment's language, in reality only applies to one entity, the National Rifle
Association."

"It is inappropriate and inequitable to create a two-tiered system of campaign finance laws and First Amendment protections, one for the most powerful and influential and another for everyone else," the letter says. "There is no legitimate justification for privileging the speech of one entity over another, or of reducing the burdens of compliance for the biggest organization yet retaining them for the smallest."

The blowback from liberal groups presents another serious political challenge for Van Hollen, who is attempting to pull together enough Democratic votes to pass the bill amid concerted Republican opposition. The legislation, which is joined by a companion bill in the Senate, is aimed at pushing back against a Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that opened the way for unlimited corporate and union spending on elections. Van Hollen has said he hoped to introduce the bill on the floor as early as Thursday.

Under the compromise, longstanding national groups with more than 1 million members and that receive less than 15 percent of their funding from corporations would be exempt from requirements to disclose major funders of political-related activities. It is unclear what groups other than the NRA might qualify: Although Democratic aides cited the Humane Society of the United States as an example, a Humane Society spokeswoman said it would not qualify for the exception because of the way it is organized.

A number of prominent reform groups, including Democracy 21, Common Cause and Public Citizen, have come out in favor of the legislation even with the NRA deal, arguing that the overall value of the bill outweighs any objections. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer also praised the legislation in a blog post earlier Wednesday, saying the bill "will ensure that corporations who participate in American elections are held accountable to the American people."

But in their letter to Pelosi, the liberal groups say that while they support the overarching goal of the legislation, they find the NRA exemption too unpalatable to accept. "We urge you in the strongest possible terms to work with the sponsors to remove the offending language and restore the integrity of the bill so we can continue to participate in efforts to craft legislation," the letter reads.

Update, 5:20 p.m.:
Van Hollen spokesman Doug Thornell said Wednesday that the legislation "will increase transparency and disclosure, and ensure the American people know who is spending money on elections. It's the public's best defense against a takeover of our elections and democracy by powerful special interests."

Update, 5:50 p.m.
Also on Wednesday, more than 200 business groups and local affiliates led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighed in with a letter to House members urging them to vote no on the legislation, which would require such groups to disclose more details about their donors and political activities.

By Dan Eggen  |  June 16, 2010; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

If the legislation passes I win. If it doesn't pass I still win. You want campaign finance reform, the same unconstitutional laws that were recently shot down. If it passes I still get my freedom of privacy under the 1st Amendment. I win, I win. It’s great to be an NRA Member, a very proactive organization.

Posted by: tonyspdx | June 17, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

So why is it okay for SOROS to gives Millions to the DEMS under his various shell corporations!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | June 17, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Make them all disclose. What are they hiding. Cowards.

Posted by: jckdoors | June 17, 2010 8:37 AM

------------------------------
I'm only guessing here:

The NRA loathes public disclosure of members and donors as that would also disclose gun owners. Gun owners, for the most part, do not want anyone to know they have guns for 2 main reasons. One, they don't want someone to target their home to steal their guns. Two, they don't want any local or national authorities who don't agree with the second amendment harassing them and making moves towards seizing their guns.

Posted by: anti-elitist | June 17, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"It's a laudable attempt to return some sanity to our bought-and-sold government following the sale of it to the highest bidder by the conservative Supreme Court. But why in heaven's name should ANY group get a special waiver from the law?????????????????????"

"What do you have to say for yourselves, Republicans? You have disgraced the United States system of government, once again."

EXCELLENT POINT!! I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Posted by: gr8bigguy | June 17, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Van Hollen is NOT done. He is loved in Maryland. And for you ridiculous Nazi Republicans who can't count, Obama is the 44th POTUS.

Posted by: gr8bigguy | June 17, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Wow, will there EVER be ANY legislation that the GOP doesn't have "concerted opposition to"? This is pathetic!! Conservative voters should demand better from their folks in Congress.

Posted by: gr8bigguy | June 17, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"Campaign Finance Reform" = corrupt ploy to keep power in the hands of incumbent politicians and the liberal media.

Posted by: pmendez | June 17, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Where was the post when unions were getting exemptions for the so called Cadillac tax on health care?

Posted by: flonzy1 | June 17, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Warning: Posts that criticize the Washington Post will be deleted by the Washington Post.

Resistance is Futile.

Posted by: exPostie | June 17, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Just more evidence that We The People have lost (for now) the governance battle to We The Petty, Single-Issue, Opportunistic, Unyielding, Incontinent, Special Interests. (CA Prop 14, baby! The sooner the nation follows, the sooner we minimize these sniveling, out-sized, caricatures of reality from our consciousness)

Posted by: Pimander | June 17, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Why is this artcile listed in the section entitled 44:The Obama Presidency? This has nothing to do with Obama. There are two other branches of government and the Post is complicit in the dumbing down of the news.

Posted by: exPostie | June 17, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Make them all disclose. What are they hiding. Cowards.

Posted by: jckdoors | June 17, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Van Hollen = Done

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 16, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama is not 44; he is more like 33 1/3.

Posted by: techresmgt | June 16, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse


Leftist WaPo hacks continue this brazen lie that the law is crafted to exempt the NRA. The law does not single out the NRA. Any established group of more than 1 million members and less than 15% of its money from corporations is exempted. The AARP also qualifies and it has 40 million members, as compared to the NRA's 4.3 million.

Posted by: screwjob16 | June 16, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

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Handbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35
Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16

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Posted by: fdsauyf8a9n | June 16, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Good move, Wapo. Put the NRA at the forefront of your articles and barely mention the unions. Free pass for organized labor?

Posted by: bethg1841 | June 16, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

It shouldn't matter a tinker's darn whether the NRA opposes the proposal to require corporations and other interests to disclose their contributions. The fact that it so obviously does matter to our timid legislators drives home the point that the NRA is one organization which should have to disclose every penny it spends or contributes in political campaigns. This is another classic example of the tail wagging the dog.

Posted by: ejs2 | June 16, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Special exemptions for the right-wing, nazi basterds under the name of RNA?
NO WAY!
These basterds deserve nothing from decent Americans. Just rememebr that garbage like Trash Limbaugh, Dick-Head Cheney, the Crafowrd Village Idiot, Bill O'Dummy, and Glenn Flake belong to this gang.

Posted by: analyst72 | June 16, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

NRA is playing dirty politics

Posted by: xaajiga1 | June 16, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

New Constitutional Amendment.

"From here on out the NRA can do anything it damn well pleases with regards to any issue that shall ever arise. We represent true patriots. If you are against us, you are not a patriot. If you want to limit our powers you are a communisit, socialist, maoist, nazi pig."

Posted by: racerdoc | June 16, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

It's a laudable attempt to return some sanity to our bought-and-sold government following the sale of it to the highest bidder by the conservative Supreme Court. But why in heaven's name should ANY group get a special waiver from the law?????????????????????

What do you have to say for yourselves, Republicans? You have disgraced the United States system of government, once again.

Posted by: B2O2 | June 16, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey, prossers7: H O W M U C H D I D D E N N Y H A S T E R T' S O F F I C E C O S T?

Posted by: Garak | June 16, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Since WP won't do an article on the Pelosi stealing over $18K a month from the taxpayers, I'll put the particulars in this article's comments:

Washington-Post, since you are not informing the public of this disgusting waste of Taxpayer's monies by you favorite PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT, NANCY PELOSI, I will take this space to inform as many people who might be interested in what our PUBLIC SERVANTS ARE BLOWING OUR MONEY ON IN SUCH A BAD ECONOMY AS WE ARE IN AND THE FACT THAT WE THE PEOPLE ARE GOING WITHOUT WHAT WE NEED TO LIVE, SHE IS FLUSHING OUR MONEY DOWN THE TOILET.

Washington-Post, why are you not reporting on the following gigantic waste of Taxpayers' monies? Does it have anything to do with the fact that DEMOCRAT NANCY PELOSI IS A PET OF YOURS AND YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT 'WE THE PEOPLE' PAYING FOR THIS WITCH'S EXPENSES?

NANCY.... PELOSI'S .....NEW..... OFFICE..... SPACE..... IS ......COSTING..... TAXPAYERS ... $18,736 ...PER MONTH.... OR ,,,,,,, $1/4.... OF ....A ....MILLIONS..... DOLLARS..... PER..... YEAR.

$$$$$.....EIGHTEEN .....THOUSAND,..... SEVEN..... HUNDRED .....THIRTY .....SIX .....TAXPAYER'S..... DOLLARS..... EACH .....MONTH.

IMPEACH..... NANCY..... PELOSI..... NOW !!!!!

Posted by: prossers7 | June 16, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Exempting the NRA from disclosure?

Any Congressman that votes for that bill is dead meat this fall!

Is the NRA claiming it is a sovereign nation or what?

Posted by: JC505 | June 16, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I would seriously question the NRA's assertion that only 15% of its money comes from corporations. It would be better to have the NRA covered but it is better to get the bill passed and then come back and fix the NRA issue. Otherwise it will not pass which is what the Republican and Chamber of Commerce, NRA etc really want.

Posted by: hmrc1 | June 16, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

If the NRA is too cowardly to disclose its funding, then it's too cowardly to get a special-interest exemption with this legislation, the NRA deserves a butt-kicking, not a butt-kissing.

Either every group gets the exemption, which makes it meaningless, or no group does, which levels the playing field.

Posted by: kingcranky | June 16, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

...and that's not a fight anybody is going to win!

You can't outspend them or out-lobby them, it's impossible!

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | June 16, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

The only way to fight the NRA is with guns.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | June 16, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Yes, every organization should have to divulge their names. No secrets. We assume that the NRA is funded by patriotic US citizens, but what if it really was funded by some outside groups; wouldn't that be important to know?

Posted by: blankspace | June 16, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

" yet under this legislation is proves that less than 15% of the NRA's funding comes from corporations and that more than 85% comes from regular American citizens "

it doesn't show that at all, beanhead.

It shows that 15% comes directly from corporations, but it doesn't reveal what percentage comes indirectly from corporations or special interest groups thru sham "foundations"

YOU should either stop lying 4 your employer or learn to think.

Full disclosure , for everyone!

Posted by: newagent99 | June 16, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Goldie.

Honorswar, the proposed loophole doesn't "prove" what you claim, not by a long shot (pun intended). For starters, your snide claim about "wealthy liberal special interests" has it exactly backwards: Wealthy conservative individuals are bankrolling the NRA's assault on gun control.

Second, all those "real Americans" who support the NRA ought to be proud to have their names and donations made public! After all, they're the majority, right? AND they have guns--lots of 'em.

You did get one thing right, though: Once again the NRA is the "clear winner." What a shame that once again, democracy and transparency are the losers.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | June 16, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

You know, this is pretty interesting. The gun control groups all keep crying that the NRA is a 'gun lobby' that is a front for gun manufacturers, yet under this legislation is proves that less than 15% of the NRA's funding comes from corporations and that more than 85% comes from regular American citizens who support the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms so strongly that they are putting their money where their beliefs are. So which group truly represents America...the NRA with its largely citizen support...the the Brady Campaign whose funding largely comes from wealthy liberal special interests? The clear winner is the NRA.

Posted by: honorswar26 | June 16, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

This is a disgrace. No one should be exempt, it is supposed to be FULL disclosure. And any Congressperson who is opposed to full disclosure by all should be held up to ridicule by his/her colleagues and the American voters. This is America, not communist Russia. It would be funny if it weren't so very, very sad.

Posted by: goldiegordon | June 16, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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