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Perriello defends NRA in campaign finance fight

Ben Pershing

Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) is wading into the controversial fight over Democrats' pending campaign finance reform measure, defending the National Rifle Association for its role in the debate from critics on both sides of the ideological divide.

The DISCLOSE Act -- sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and due for a House vote as early as Friday -- would require most unions, corporations and nonprofit groups to disclose more information about their donors and their political activities. The original version of the bill set off alarm bills at the NRA, which strongly opposed having to reveal so much information about its donors. Recognizing the political clout of the pro-gun lobby, Democratic leaders cut a deal with the NRA by carving out an exemption from the disclosure rules for groups fitting a narrow set of criteria.

Then the trouble started. Many liberal lawmakers and groups were outraged, complaining that Democrats were hurting the bill and cowering to the gun lobby by creating an exemption. And the NRA also took some flack from conservatives, who were upset that the deal might smooth passage for a bill they hate. "Cutting a special deal at the expense of the First Amendment with lawmakers who have decided for now to stop gutting the Second Amendment reveals an NRA that is unprincipled and will be weaker for it in the long run," complained the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

But the deal and the NRA do have their defenders -- mostly among the ranks of conservative-leaning Democrats like Perriello, who issued this statement Thursday:

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.

As a freshman lawmaker facing a difficult reelection race, Perriello knows that supporting campaign finance reform generally is likely to be good politics. But he also knows that defying the NRA is bad politics, particularly in a rural district like his where so many constituents are gun owners and staunch supporters of gun rights. Perriello touted his strong rating from the NRA in his 2008 campaign, and he has positioned himself as a supporter of gun rights during his time in office.

Several potent groups, particularly the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, remain opposed to the DISCLOSE measure and will likely seek to punish lawmakers who vote for it.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 17, 2010; 12:32 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Tom Perriello  
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The NRA refuses to acknowledge the Big Picture here. They claim to just want to protect the 2nd Amendment. Yet support Persons and Legislation that would crap on the Constitution is a heartbeat. You can't protect and defend what is no longer there!
1. They endorsed and gave money to Scozzafava in the NY 23 race last year. Reason? She had an A grade. But then she punked everybody and went Progressive, just as we said she would. She WOULD dump the Constitution in a heartbeat!
2. They endorse (and no records of how much they have given) Ill Rep Mark Kirk for Obama's seat. You know, one of the 7 Republican RINOS, that voted for Piglosi's Crap and Tax?
3. The NRA gave 2500.00 to the Campaign of Harry Reid in March. Does ANYONE doubt Reid would turn on the Constitution if the Socialist Obama wanted it? Only the NRA leaders doesn't believe Reid would stab them in the back!
4. I have received two emails from NRA claiming the UN Small Arms Teaty was not to be worried about. I did my research and they lie, it IS something we need to prepare to protest. Why is the NRA trying to get us off balance on THAT?
5. Now this. They want to protect THEMSELVES from losing their 1st Amendment Rights, but could care less if EVERYONE else does? And THIS is a Constitution oriented group? NO!
Can anyone actually say there hasn't been OTHER similar things been done behind closed doors by the NRA? Have they been infiltrated by Progressives? Have they ALWAYS been Progressives and have been using their status to manipulate members fears, and funds?
Or, are are they truly close minded buffoons that can't see what they are doing will END the Constitution?
My membership in the NRA runs out 30 June. I won't renew. Been a member, off and on, since 1980.

Posted by: robotech1 | June 17, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Perriello is a gutless puke who's carrying water for a far-right-wing organization that spends 85% of its PAC money on the GOP. This is the Democratic Party at the height of masochism, because they refuse to whip their caucus.

Posted by: gritsjr | June 18, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Why would Second Amendment supporters be opposed to transparency?

Posted by: HilaryLo | June 21, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

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