The American Conservative Union Thursday called for the Senate to reject a bipartisan campaign finance bill introduced this week, saying it "infringes on freedom, privacy, and free speech" and "inhibits political discourse."
The legislation was introduce Tuesday by Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The two wrote in a Dec. 27 Washington Post
piece that the bill's intent would be to prevent the American people being from “forced to suffer through another election cycle filled with anonymous sleaze and innuendo.”
A press release from the ACU, however, said the bill “deprives every American citizen of the rights to support causes of their choice without fear of retribution from their bosses, neighbors, or government officials.”
Chairman Al Cardenas said every time government tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist it makes matters worse. “ The McCain/Feingold bill promised to do away with large sums of money in politics, but the opposite occurred,” Cardenas said in the release.
Wyden and Murkowski said in their Post op-ed that they were spurred to write the bill by the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case that made possible huge influxes of cash into campaigns that tear down candidates, but allow the donors behind the attacks to remain anonymous.
“The anonymity of much of this spending encourages ads that lower the level of political discourse and makes it harder, not easier, for Americans to make informed decisions,” they wrote.
But ACU Foundation Chairman Cleta Mitchell disagreed.
“When liberals talk about 'transparency', that isn’t what they mean,” she said in the group's press release. “What they really want, and what this bill provides, is a target list of conservatives who have the temerity to contribute their after-tax dollars to support candidates and issues the left hates.”
Liberals have been trying to silence and intimidate conservative donors for years to prevent them from giving to causes and candidates they believe in, she added.
Cardenas pointed to a recent survey by his group that he said shows Americans don’t agree with having their rights to contribute to causes and campaigns taken away.
According to the survey:
• Ninety-two percent agree that “private American citizens should have the right to free speech to support any independent group that they want on an issue they want, for example groups that support or oppose gun control, support or oppose a woman's right to choose, protecting the environment, promoting business development and growth, etc.” Sixty-eight percent strongly agreed. Only 6 percent disagreed.
• Eighty-nine percent approve and 62 percent strongly approve of “protecting the rights of privacy of American citizens to speak out on issues without fear of reprisal or retribution from anyone, including those in government, the media, their employers, or opposing issue advocacy groups.” Only 7 percent disapproved.
• Eighty-six percent agreed that “private American citizens have a right to privacy when they support any issue-advocacy groups.” Fifty-eight percent strongly agreed and only 9 percent disagreed.
• Eighty-six percent agree that “American citizens have a right to privacy when they support independent issue groups.” Fifty-eight percent strongly agreed and only 11 percent disagreed.
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