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Democrats: Breakthrough on Campaign Finance Bill

by John Bresnahan

WASHINGTON - House Democrats have reached an agreement with the National Rifle Association on campaign-finance legislation that would roll back the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, removing a major obstacle on the bill, according to House sources.

House Democrats have reached an agreement with the National Rifle Association on campaign finance legislation that would roll back the Citizens United decision. (AP) The deal would exempt the NRA and some other large organizations from strict campaign finance disclosures in the bill, which is being pushed by Democratic leaders in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. The NRA had objected to some of the disclosure requirements for the new campaign finance proposals, and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation. The NRA said it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed.

But if there is an agreement in principle, the bill could come to the House floor as early as this week.

That Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case removed all barriers on corporations or unions from running TV ads opposing or backing candidates in the run-up to an election. Democratic leaders fear the decision could open the floodgates for corporate money to flow into the year’s mid-term elections, which they believe would favor Republicans, and they have vowed to pass legislation to require public disclosure of such activities.

Under the original bill, offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, groups like the NRA would have to disclose their top donors if they chose to run TV ads or send out mass mailings in the final months of an election

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who supports the Van Hollen bill yet is also an NRA backer, had offered an amendment to exempt the NRA and other non-profits from the legislation, but that move drew objections from campaign watchdog groups.

The new agreement would exempt organizations that have over one million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations, from the disclosure requirements. The NRA, with four million members, would fall into the exempted category and will not oppose the DISCLOSE Act now, according to Democratic sources.

But the Chamber of Commerce still opposes the legislation, and its not clear that the Senate will take it up even if the House passes it.

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