Schumer pledges that DISCLOSE Act restrictions on campaign spending would not take effect until after midterm elections

Chris Moody Contributor
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The DISCLOSE Act, a campaign finance bill that forces organizations that run political advertisements to reveal their funding sources, would not take effect until after the November midterm elections if passed, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.

Republicans blocked the bill
in July, and Schumer said he hoped the change in the bill’s date of enforcement would sway at least one Republican vote, which is needed to block another filibuster.

“We are willing to change the effective date to January 2011 so that it won’t apply to this November’s election,” Schumer said. “Even if we didn’t take this step, the reality is, we are late enough in the election cycle that the law could not realistically take effect in time for this fall. But to show we are willing to work with Republicans, we would offer this as an amendment if we can get onto the bill.”

The bill would require organizations that pay for political ads to reveal their sources of funding and includes speech restrictions on government contractors, companies with foreign investors and exemptions for some labor unions and large groups like the National Rifle Association.

Specifically, the measure will require the largest donor behind any political television ad to say he approves the message. The names of the top five groups that have donated must also appear on the screen.

Schumer said that the measure is a direct response to the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. The FEC, where the Court ruled in January that certain campaign finance rules were unconstitutional and that spending on political ads is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment.

The bill has received criticism from strange bedfellows from across the political spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Right to Life Committee, who say the bill would discourage political speech.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a vote on the bill for Thursday, a move that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed as “pure politics.”

Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who have been outspoken supporters of campaign finance reform, are under pressure from advocacy groups to cross party lines and vote for the bill.

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