Campaign Finance Reform Breakthrough: NRA & Dems Unite Against Chamber

| Mon Jun. 14, 2010 1:42 PM EDT

House Democrats today reached a deal with the National Rifle Association that would roll back parts of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, the widely disdained legal precedent that opened the floodgates to corporate-funded political ads. The Dems' deal would require groups like the US Chamber of Commerce to disclose the top funders of their political ads, but would create loopholes for the NRA and other membership groups.

The deal falls short of what campaign finance watchdogs wanted, but would probably be a net gain for Democrats. According to Politico:

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.

That complicated loophole would probably exempt many (see below) not include unions, but neither would it exempt their better-funded foes, groups such as Karl Rove's American Crossroads and the US Chamber of Commerce, which consistently ranks as Washington's largest single political donor. Indeed, the Chamber would be doubly excluded under the proposed bill: First, it clearly gets most of its funds from corporations. And second, it has fewer than one million members, as I was able to establish in a series of stories published earlier this year.

The deal with the NRA smoothes the road for the bill's passage in the House, where pro-gun Democrats had feared pissing off the powerful group. But it would still face hurdles in the Senate, where it could face major procedural roadblocks from Republicans.

UPDATE: Today the SEIU confirmed to Mother Jones' Suzy Khimm that unions will not be exempted from the bill's disclosure requirement.