Democrats Take NRA Cash, Block Disclosure

This is not the first piece of sensible legislation that NRA-backed Democrats have jeopardized because of their allegiance to the NRA and the money it pours into their campaigns. But now is the time for this to stop.
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A funny thing happened on the way toward shining a light on big money's influence in political campaigns. Apparently, the 53 House Democrats who get money from the NRA decided to stand in the way. Not on principle. They've got no problem with disclosure rules for big corporations, small corporations, unions, or advocacy groups in general.

And it's not because H.R. 5175 has anything to do with the Second Amendment or regulations on gun ownership. It doesn't.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen's (D-Md.) proposal, which is strongly supported by the Obama Administration and known as the DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act, seeks to strengthen campaign finance disclosure rules in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in January. There's not a single word about guns in the bill.

Among other things, the DISCLOSE Act requires that advocacy groups reveal the major sources of funding for their independent expenditures late in the campaigns of federal candidates for office.

But in response to complaints by the NRA bosses who don't want to tell the public where their money comes from, the 53 Democrats who receive money from the NRA apparently insisted the bill be changed. This led to a "compromise" that exempts groups with more than a million members; and that raised 15 percent or less funding from corporations; that have members in all 50 states; and that have been around at least 10 years.

Funny thing, only one advocacy group actually involved in political campaigns - and one group alone - meets the new criterion. The NRA.

After word of this ironic and outrageous "carve out" spread throughout Washington and across the country, more than a hundred groups, conservative and liberal, loudly registered their objections to Congress, Van Hollen, and the NRA.

But it's these 53 Democrats who should be the target, not only of the other groups that would have to abide by a different set of rules, but also, of the American people.

These 53 Democrats who refuse to stand up to a special interest on an issue that has nothing directly to do with guns or the Second Amendment are allowing NRA cash to decide what role money will play in our election campaigns.

This is not the first piece of sensible legislation that NRA-backed Democrats have thwarted or jeopardized because of their allegiance to the NRA and the money it pours into their campaigns. But before these Democrats get the idea that their behavior is acceptable, now is a good time for us to tell them that putting their cozy relationship with the NRA above the interests of the voters has got to stop.

Join us in demanding that if these Democrats vote for H.R. 5175 with an NRA exemption, they should return the cash and promise to not take any more NRA money indirectly in this or future elections.

The 53 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have taken money from the NRA this year are:

Jason Altmire (PA);
Joe Baca (CA);
John Barrow (GA);
Marion Berry (AR);
Sanford Bishop (GA);
John Boccieri (OH);
Dan Boren (OK);
Leonard Boswell (IA);
Rick Boucher (VA);
Allen Boyd (FL);
Bobby Bright (AL);
Chris Carney (PA);
Ben Chandler (KY);
Jerry Costello (IL);
Henry Cuellar (TX);
Lincoln Davis (TN);
John Dingell (MI);
Joe Donnelly (IN);
Chet Edwards (TX);
Brad Ellsworth (IN);
Bart Gordon (TN);
Gene Green (TX);
Deborah Halvorson (IL);
Martin Heinrich (NM);
Brian Higgins (NY);
Baron Hill (IN);
Tim Holden (PA);
Steve Kagen (WI);
Paul Kanjorski (PA);
Larry Kissell (NC);
Frank Kratovil (MD);
Jim Marshall (GA);
Jim Matheson (UT);
Mike McIntyre (NC);
Mike Michaud (ME);
Alan Mollohan (WV);
Scott Murphy (NY);
Glenn Nye (VA);
David Obey (WI);
Tom Perriello (VA);
Collin Peterson (MN);
Earl Pomeroy (ND);
Nick Rahall (WV);
Mike Ross (AR);
Tim Ryan (OH);
John Salazar (CO);
Heath Shuler (NC);
Ike Skelton (MO);
Zachary Space (OH);
Bart Stupak (MI);
Gene Taylor (MS);
Timothy Walz (MN);
Charlie Wilson (OH).

Paul Helmke is president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Follow the Brady Campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

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