WHAT IS “FEDERAL ELECTION ACTIVITY?”
by KrisAnne Hall,©2012, blogging at KrisAnneHall
(Jul. 17, 2012) — ALERT: The Disclose Act (s. 3369) has been resurrected and it will further destroy the remnants of our 1st Amendment and diminish the power of our grassroots groups!
It is always shocking to me that those we elect are absolutely clueless to the true government that they were elected to support and defend. Day in and day out we hear our representatives refer to our government as a “democracy.” Our founders did not establish a democracy, they established a republic. At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a women referred to as Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia, “Well, Doctor, what have we, a republic or a monarchy?” It is said that Dr. Franklin, without hesitation, said, “A Republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.” Here we are 225 years later and our own representatives do not know the correct answer to this question.
And here we are, once again, with the resurrection of the Disclose Act of 2012, and its title tells us all we need to know to want to bury this tyranny in the ground once and for all. In his limited wisdom, Sheldon Whitehouse, along with his 28 co-sponsors believe that this government is a democracy and have short titled the Disclose Act, ‘‘Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act of 2012.’’ Yes, Mr. Whitehouse I am sure that Democracy is strengthened, but what about a republic? Since our government is a Constitutional Republic, built upon the inalienable rights of the people protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the answer to that question is a resounding NO!
Here is the nuts and bolts of the unconstitutionality of the disclose act. First, in true tyrannical form, the language in this act is so vague and overbroad that it is difficult to actually determine who is required to comply and who is not. Take, for example, the definition of “political committee” that already exists in 2 USC 441-subchapter I – Disclosure of Federal Campaigns:
(4) The term “political committee” means – (A) any committee, club, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year or which makes expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year; or
Does that include your grassroots group? How about this wonderful definition of a campaign contribution included in this already existing act?
(8)(A) The term “contribution” includes – (i) any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office; or (emphasis added)
What about this acts definition of “federal election activity?”
(A) In general. – The term “Federal election activity” means – (iii) a public communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office (regardless of whether a candidate for State or local office is also mentioned or identified) and that promotes or supports a candidate for that office, or attacks or opposes a candidate for that office (regardless of whether the communication expressly advocates a vote for or against a candidate);
Has YOUR grassroots engaged in activity that is governed by the Federal Election’s Commission? How could you possibly know? So, how could the Disclose Act make this any worse? Well, it does, and here is how.
First, the Disclose Act expands the definition of “Electioneering Communication.” The original act allows the FEC to label a communication “electioneering” only within the window of “60 days before a general, special, or runoff election for the office sought by the candidate; or 30 days before a primary or preference election, or a convention or caucus of a political party that has authority to nominate a candidate, for the office sought by the candidate.” The Disclose Act would expand that limitation in the case of the non-Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate to beginning on January 1 of the calendar year in which a general or runoff election is held and ending on the date of the general or runoff election. Making any communication made 11 months prior to the general election subject to be defined as “federal election activity.” In the case of the President and Vice-President, this period is extended to “the period beginning 120 days before the first primary election, caucus, or preference election held for the selection of delegates to a national nominating convention of a political party.” That means that all communications by an eligible group that are made over 1 year before the presidential election can be vaguely defined as “federal election activity.” This is an unprecedented expansion of the federal government over free speech!
This however, is not the end of this Act’s assault on liberty. Not only will our groups be required to report activity over a year before a presidential election, but our groups will be required to disclose its membership rolls to the FEC. This new act requires that any group making an aggregate donation within this period must disclose:
(i) the name and address of each person who made such payment during the period covered by the statement; (ii) the date and amount of such payment; and (iii) the aggregate amount of all such payments made by the person during the period beginning on the first day of the election reporting cycle and ending on the disclosure date.
The proponents of this legislation will tell you that it only affects the rich or the major corporations because disclosure must only be made with an aggregate donation of $10,000. But watch out. We must remember the vague language and keep in mind the chilling effect this will have on those willing to participate in our grassroots groups. Remember your group qualifies for FEC supervision according to section (4) if its members give more than $1,000 per YEAR. How will the FEC define that term in section 8(A), anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election? And we cannot forget that the legislators love to insert “boilerplate” provisions to cover any opportunity they have missed, and the Disclose Act is no exception. The FEC will be permitted to request “(G) Such other information as required in rules established by the Commission to promote the purposes of this section.” That means that the FEC can pass a RULE that will expand this law outside the constitutionally established procedures requiring Congressional approval. This is the very epitome of an executive agency being given legislative law making power and robs the people of their elective voice.
I am once again reminded of the warnings of our founders. Alexander Hamilton warned us in Federalist Paper #84, that by enumerating certain rights in the Bill of Rights it would actually INVITE government intrusion upon these rights. Hamilton knew that our federal government was delegated very LIMITED POWERS, and those powers did not include the right to govern our speech. He reasoned that if we tell the federal government what they cannot do, rather than simply telling them what they can do, it would lead to the ultimate usurpation of those rights:
“[Men disposed to usurp] might urge with a semblance of reason, that the constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority, which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it, was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers.”
We now have a government full of men disposed to usurp the liberties of our people. The Disclose Act is just another manifestation of the doctrine of constructive powers used as a tool to destroy our Constitutionally protected rights. It does not deal with the real issue of corporate corruption. This Act will turn every statement made in the public forum into a potential campaign contribution. So if your group stands against something the incumbent is doing, you have potentially made a campaign contribution to his opponent. And make no mistake, those who have the “government agenda” in mind will continue to get receive the golden “presidential waiver.” I am sure that the “wrong-stream” media, who continue to funnel billions of free add campaigns to their “favorites” will NEVER be held accountable!
The Disclose Act does what it says it will do, promote democracy and defeat the republic our founders established. It will silence the minority in favor of the majority. It will allow the federal government to define political speech and penalize it with massive government regulations.
CONTACT YOUR SENATOR NOW AND DEMAND THE DEFEAT OF THE DISCLOSE ACT.