Sunday, June 27, 2010

McMahon: Free Speech Be Damned

June 25, 2010

My Dear Fellow Patriots;

Yesterday, my Congressman voted to stick a knife into the heart of free speech.

He voted for a bill that carries a cruel joke of an acronym: DISCLOSE. That stands for Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections. Never has there been such a misnomer.

He voted for a bill that has only a single reason for its existence: to thwart the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United vs. FEC, which unshackled corporations from the restraints on political speech imposed upon them by McCain/Feingold.

When the SCOTUS ruled that private citizens, of which corporations are comprised, have the freedom to speak their political minds, Democrats went into a panic. How could they silence these newly-freed voices? First, they denied that corporations are composed of individual human beings with a right to free speech. Then, they demonized them as soulless entities with no shred of humanity – never mind that corporations are comprised of nothing BUT people like you and me.

Finally, behind closed doors, Chris Van Hollen and Chuck Schumer, the two men in charge of getting Democrats re-elected in the House and Senate respectively this fall, crafted DISCLOSE. In doing so, they reminded us once again that what Nancy Pelosi promised would be “a new era of honest, open, and transparent government,” is simply an epic fail.

The bill, which will have a tremendous effect on this November’s campaign, received a total of one hour of debate. This was determined by the same Democratic rules committee that had allotted 41 hours of debate to the naming of post offices.
What does the bill mean? This from Mark Hemingway of the Washington Examiner:

So unions now get nearly unrestricted, undisclosed political spending. Further, the restrictions in the DISCLOSE Act only cut one way — against business. If you took TARP funds as a business, express political advocacy is now verboten. So GM has very limited first amendment rights, but even though arguably primary beneficiary of the auto bailout was the United Auto Workers union which got government guaranteed billions directly as a result of the TARP funding — UAW can spend almost whatever it pleases, and it has a history of spending millions on Democratic campaigns.

Further, under the DISCLOSE Act if a company has more than $7 million in government contracts, it has no right to political speech. But public sector unions can spend millions of recycled tax dollars campaigning for Democrats, no problem. All this will likely do is make business spend more money on lobbyists rather than campaigns. Of course, campaign spending is much more transparent than lobbying, but when it comes to the DISCLOSE act, clean elections and free speech seem to be secondary considerations to getting Democrats elected.

And what are we to make of the fact that this bill - unlike all other campaign finance bills - has NO provision for expedited judicial review? It's just more evidence that this is a desperate move, by a desperate majority, desperate to hold on to power. They know that this law will likely fail to pass constitutional muster - but not before Election Day, 2010.

Instead of a bill that applied restrictions fairly to all entities, it contained loopholes (called "carve outs") to help the Democrats friends and silence their foes. I am disappointed that my representative would try to pull the wool over our eyes in this way - and worse, that he would try to silence our voices.

I suspect he still hasn’t gotten it. We are no longer asleep, Congressman McMahon – we are awake, alert, very concerned, informed and engaged. In the old days, you could double-talk your way around this vote and count on it being forgotten in a few short days. You'd probably be right if you thought that nobody was even paying attention.

Not anymore, Congressman. There are about 1,500 people on our mailing list, and these missives are forwarded to thousands of others, and they all have friends, relatives and neighbors. They may not call and they may not write, but now they are paying attention, and now they DO NOT forget - they watch and listen and read, and will remember when it's decision-making time in November.

Every vote like this one, every vote that makes us less free, every vote that brings us further under the thumb of this administration – every one – will energize us.

We will not rest, Congressman. We will take it to the streets and we will take it to Capitol Hill, and most importantly, we will take it to the voting booths.

Frank Santarpia
Staten Island, NY