I think the NRA just shot themselves in the foot by using tactics that are normally prescribed to the progressive left, namely “win at any cost” and “the ends justify the means”.
The NRA sells out to Democrats on the First Amendment.
The campaign finance bill, sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Chris Van Hollen, is the Democratic response to the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which restored the First Amendment right of corporations, unions and nonprofits to make independent campaign expenditures. At the time, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre calledCitizens United “a defeat for arrogant elitists who wanted to carve out free speech as a privilege for themselves and deny it to the rest of us.”
Look who’s arrogant and elitist now. Under the Schumer-Van Hollen bill, political speech would be bound up with new restrictions, including special burdens on government contractors and corporations that have a certain level of foreign ownership or received TARP funds. The bill also includes disclosure rules designed to hit corporations, requiring CEOs to appear to “approve this message” the way politicians do, and for groups to identify their donors. Except for the NRA.
Under the NRA carve-out in the House bill, the new rules won’t apply to any organizations that have been around for more than 10 years, have more than a million members and receive less than 15% of their funding from corporate donors. That fits the NRA nicely, though as best we can figure, everyone else, from the Sierra Club to Planned Parenthood, fails to qualify. So much for defending the little guy against the fat cats.
This backroom deal came at the behest of Democrats from conservative states, for whom the NRA’s scorecard of their legislative record can be a major boost or obstacle to election. Creating a special exception for the NRA, and thereby assuring the Democrats “good grades” on Second Amendment rights, eases the way for the bill to be passed. A failing grade on First Amendment rights is somebody else’s problem.
By erecting what amounts to a grandfather clause of First Amendment rights, the bill creates a sort of interest-group incumbency, concentrating the power to speak freely among a handful of large and longstanding groups. Established organizations like the NRA provide important representation for their members, but their lobbying cause is specific and limited.