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Conservatives take on the NRA over deal on disclosure bill

Conservative groups are waging an 11th-hour campaign against the DISCLOSE Act, a bill written to amend campaign-finance law in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

The bill makes the changes that Democrats want, and for that reason it was moribund for weeks. But conservatives blame the National Rifle Association for cutting a deal and crafting language that exempts it from the bill's disclosure requirements.

The most visible critic of the deal is Myron Ebell, director of Freedom Action and a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who is encouraging conservatives to slam Congress with calls and e-mails. He is pointedly attacking the NRA for the carve-out.

"The House appears to have scheduled a vote for tomorrow," he said. "They have the votes, and before the NRA sell-out, they did not have the votes. Look, it's one thing when a ship is sinking and you want to save your group. But the ship was not sinking until they did this."

Republicans in the House tell me that the pressure from conservatives -- and liberals -- is actually slowing the train down, and that there might not be a vote Thursday. But that hasn't quelled outrage at the NRA for backing down from its previous position, which was that the bill was unacceptable and that members would be scored on their votes.

The Family Research Council is also hitting the NRA -- one of several pro-life groups accusing the pro-Second Amendment group of selling out. "In an unfortunate move," said FRC vice president of government affairs Tom McCluskey in a statement, "the NRA decided self-preservation trumped principle and is accepting this affront on the First Amendment as long as they are protected."

Conservatives have allies in the House GOP conference, who are reportedly dismayed over the deal while not going out of their way to attack the NRA. This afternoon, however, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) hinted at his position by sending members of his Twitter feed to a Wall Street Journal editorial with an unmistakable slant: "The NRA sells out to Democrats on the First Amendment."

Reid Wilson has a lot more on this.

By David Weigel  |  June 16, 2010; 6:01 PM ET
Categories:  Second Amendment  
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