Weekly editorial recap

Senate Republicans on Tuesday successfully blocked a measure intended to get around a recent campaign finance reform ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Friends of the First Amendment should rejoice.

Democrats fell three votes short of the 60 they needed to advance the so-called Disclose Act, which would impose new regulations on non-union organizations wishing to exercise their constitutional right to advertise their positions on political issues during election years.

If the issue sounds familiar, that’s because the Supreme Court threw out such restrictions — previously imposed by the unconstitutional McCain-Feingold law — in its Citizens United v. FEC ruling this year.

Among other things, the bill would force grass-roots organizations to publicize and release the names of their top five contributors, making them vulnerable to threats, intimidation or worse; and require organizations to expose the location of their top donor’s home and workplace in the disclaimer at the end of every television ad. It’s a thinly veiled effort to intimidate corporations and other groups into staying on the sidelines come election season. …

Supporters of the Disclose Act argue it will bring more transparency to the political process. But organized labor and other special interests managed to get themselves exempted from many of the provisions.

"The so-called ‘Disclose Act’ is being sold by Big Labor as a bill to provide greater transparency," warns Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Committee. "But, of course, like all the other insider games here in Washington, there is a big loophole. You see, Big Labor is exempted. They’ll still be free to spend their billion-dollar forced-dues war chest in virtually any way they see fit in complete secrecy."

And that’s fine — as long as everyone else enjoys the same First Amendment protections.

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