Cruz: Election Spending Limits Aim to 'Muzzle' Free Speech

Image: Cruz: Election Spending Limits Aim to 'Muzzle' Free Speech

Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 09:09 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz denounced a constitutional amendment proposal on Tuesday that would allow Congress to control campaign spending during elections, saying it would "muzzle" free speech from both the left and the right.

The Republican tea party favorite lashed out at the proposed legislation and the Democrats supporting it during a Senate Judiciary Committee, while even advocating that an abortion rights group has the right to be heard, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"When did elected Democrats abandon the Bill of Rights?" Cruz asked, adding that the amendment "would give Congress the power to muzzle Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life."

He continued: "Forty-two Democrats have signed their name to giving Congress the right to muzzle the Sierra Club, to muzzle the National Rifle Association, and the Brady Center on Handgun Violence, to muzzle Michael Moore, and Dinesh D’Souza, to muzzle the teamsters, and the National Education Association, to muzzle the NAACP, to muzzle the Anti-Defamation League, to muzzle pastors and priests and rabbis who organize their parishioners to be involved in politics."

According to the Journal, the hearing is basically symbolic because the passage of a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House, and then approval of 38 out of the 50 states.

The GOP and the Democrats have stepped up their battle over campaign financing since the Supreme Court lifted the limits on aggregate campaign donations by individual donors in April.

GOP leaders like Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus say there also should be no limit on how much money someone can contribute to either an individual or a political party.

To make his point, Cruz put up his two symbolic bills on campaign financing, including one piece of legislation which would remove the caps on individual donations to candidates. They are unlikely to be approved in the Democrat-controlled chamber, the Journal said.

During the hearing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada pushed for the amendment, while once again attacking billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch, who he says are attempting to buy the elections for the GOP with their massive campaign contributions.

"Our involvement in government should not be dependent on our bank account balances," Reid said. "The American people reject the notion that money gives the Koch brothers, corporations, or special interest groups a greater voice in government than a mechanic, a lawyer, a doctor, a healthcare worker."

The hearing featured testimony from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, which was the first time both GOP and Democratic leaders had testified at the same committee meeting, according to Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

Before the hearing started, audience members held up signs calling for "Big $$ Out of Elections," while others wore blue duct tape over their mouths, protesting restrictions on free speech, the Journal reported.

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