A political compromise would exempt the National Rifle Association from legislation in Congress requiring corporations to identify themselves in political ads they pay for, and to disclose their expenditures to shareholders and the public.
The proposed carve-out for the NRA led the U.S. Public Interest Research Group to withdraw support for the bill, which was moving closer to consideration in the full House of Representatives. Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, staked out opposition to the bill, the Associated Press reported.
Other reform groups, including the Campaign Legal Center, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Public Citizen and Democracy 21 continued to support the bill, according to a Washington Post article.
The exemption would apply to longtime national groups with more than 1 million members and getting 15 percent or less of their funding from corporations.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a Democratic leader championing the bill, said the exemption for the NRA was needed to win passage. Van Hollen said that if the disclosure legislation is not approved, companies like BP could fund shadow groups and leave the public in the dark, a Huffington Post article reported.
Especially critical of the NRA was a Wall Street Journal editorial. It remarked, “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.”
The House bill and a Senate version were drafted to soften the impact of the Supreme Court’s January ruling in Citizens United. Learn more about the legislation from Gavel Grab.